Slander (1957)

81-82 mins | Melodrama | 18 January 1957

Director:

Roy Rowland

Writer:

Jerome Weidman

Producer:

Armand Deutsch

Cinematographer:

Harold J. Marzorati

Editor:

George Boemler

Production Designers:

William A. Horning, Hans Peters

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Slander was based on a 1956 teleplay by Harry W. Junkin entitled Public Figure which was broadcast on the CBS dramatic television series Studio One , starring James Daly and Mercedes McCambridge. The title Public Figure was also used as a working title for Slander , in addition to the title Pattern of Malice . A 20 Feb 1956 HR article noted that producer Armand Deutsch sold the teleplay, which he had purchased from Junkin, to M-G-M on the condition that Deutsch be hired to produce the film version. Although a 5 Mar 1956 DV article states that M-G-M hired Allen Rivkin to write a script entitled Pattern of Malice from the teleplay, he was not credited onscreen and no further information has been found about his participation in the film. According to a 31 Jul 1956 HR news item, M-G-M changed the film's title to Confidential Slander in response to a conflict with Sam Baer, who had registered the title Slander for a film; however, the conflict was apparently resolved prior to the film's Jan 1957 release under the title Slander .
       The 1950s saw the beginnings of a new tabloid format embodied in “scandal sheets” like Confidential , which featured stories about Hollywood film stars’ private lives. Although the 22 Dec 1956 MPH review claimed that the magazine and its publisher portrayed in Slander were based on a real magazine and publisher, no information as to the identity of either has been found.
       A 23 Aug 1956 HR ... More Less

Slander was based on a 1956 teleplay by Harry W. Junkin entitled Public Figure which was broadcast on the CBS dramatic television series Studio One , starring James Daly and Mercedes McCambridge. The title Public Figure was also used as a working title for Slander , in addition to the title Pattern of Malice . A 20 Feb 1956 HR article noted that producer Armand Deutsch sold the teleplay, which he had purchased from Junkin, to M-G-M on the condition that Deutsch be hired to produce the film version. Although a 5 Mar 1956 DV article states that M-G-M hired Allen Rivkin to write a script entitled Pattern of Malice from the teleplay, he was not credited onscreen and no further information has been found about his participation in the film. According to a 31 Jul 1956 HR news item, M-G-M changed the film's title to Confidential Slander in response to a conflict with Sam Baer, who had registered the title Slander for a film; however, the conflict was apparently resolved prior to the film's Jan 1957 release under the title Slander .
       The 1950s saw the beginnings of a new tabloid format embodied in “scandal sheets” like Confidential , which featured stories about Hollywood film stars’ private lives. Although the 22 Dec 1956 MPH review claimed that the magazine and its publisher portrayed in Slander were based on a real magazine and publisher, no information as to the identity of either has been found.
       A 23 Aug 1956 HR article stated that Lewis Martin replaced actor Theodore Newton in the role of "Charles Orrin Sterling" when the latter became ill during production. Additional HR news items add the following actors to the cast: Richard Deacon, Jeanette Nolan and Eleanor Grumer. Nolan and Deacon were not in the released film and the appearance of Grumer could not be determined. The 17 Dec 1956 HR review notes that Jack Shafton and Allan Henderson designed and created the marionettes Van Johnson used in the film as “Scott Ethan Martin” the host of a televised puppet show. A modern source adds Patricia Winters to the cast.

More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Dec 1956.
---
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1956.
---
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1956.
---
Daily Variety
17 Dec 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Dec 56
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 1956.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1956
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1956
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 1956
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 1956
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 1956
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1956
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1956
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 56
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jan 1957.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Dec 56
p. 195.
New York Herald Tribune
17 Jan 1957.
---
New York Times
17 Jan 57
p. 34.
Newsweek
4 Feb 1957.
---
Time
11 Nov 1957.
---
Variety
19 Dec 56
p. 7.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Still man
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Casting
Casting
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the teleplay "Public Figure" by Harry W. Junkin on Studio One (CBS, 23 Jan 1956).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Public Figure
Pattern of Malice
Confidential Slander
Release Date:
18 January 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 16 January 1957
Production Date:
14 August--mid September 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 December 1956
Copyright Number:
LP7376
Physical Properties:
Sound
Perspecta Sound; Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
81-82
Length(in feet):
7,307
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18301
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

H. R. Manley, owner of Real Truth tabloid scandal magazine, lives with his mother in an upscale Manhattan apartment enjoying the wealth he has acquired since the magazine’s inception, only two years earlier. Mrs. Manley, however, rarely leaves the house, embarrassed by the nature of the tabloid. At a Real Truth staff meeting after legal consultant Homer Crowley announces the magazine's falling distribution totals, Manley threatens to fire his reporters unless they can stimulate circulation by uncovering more lurid and revealing secrets about public figures. When the magazine's printer, Harry Walsh, demands to know why Manley is choosing a new printing company, Manley states that, far from disapproving of his work, he simply hates Walsh. Walsh reminds Manley that he fronted the money for the first edition when the publisher was just a poor man with an idea. After Walsh leaves, Homer suggests Manley apologize to him to buy time to pay off a $100,000 debt he owes Walsh. Instead, Manley demands that his writers produce an extraordinarily sensational issue targeting movie star Mary Sawyer and orders them to follow up on the only lead, Sawyer’s childhood friend, Scott Ethan Martin, a floundering marionette entertainer. Meanwhile, Scott, thanks to the hard work of his agent, Seth Jackson, has just secured a spot on a televised children's show. That afternoon, when Manley’s mother informs him that once again she has been refused service at the upscale La Toire because of Real Truth , he orders his reporters to write an article ... +


H. R. Manley, owner of Real Truth tabloid scandal magazine, lives with his mother in an upscale Manhattan apartment enjoying the wealth he has acquired since the magazine’s inception, only two years earlier. Mrs. Manley, however, rarely leaves the house, embarrassed by the nature of the tabloid. At a Real Truth staff meeting after legal consultant Homer Crowley announces the magazine's falling distribution totals, Manley threatens to fire his reporters unless they can stimulate circulation by uncovering more lurid and revealing secrets about public figures. When the magazine's printer, Harry Walsh, demands to know why Manley is choosing a new printing company, Manley states that, far from disapproving of his work, he simply hates Walsh. Walsh reminds Manley that he fronted the money for the first edition when the publisher was just a poor man with an idea. After Walsh leaves, Homer suggests Manley apologize to him to buy time to pay off a $100,000 debt he owes Walsh. Instead, Manley demands that his writers produce an extraordinarily sensational issue targeting movie star Mary Sawyer and orders them to follow up on the only lead, Sawyer’s childhood friend, Scott Ethan Martin, a floundering marionette entertainer. Meanwhile, Scott, thanks to the hard work of his agent, Seth Jackson, has just secured a spot on a televised children's show. That afternoon, when Manley’s mother informs him that once again she has been refused service at the upscale La Toire because of Real Truth , he orders his reporters to write an article ruining the restaurant owner's career. Later that night, Evening Globe newspaper publisher Frank Grover appears on the television show What Do You Read and accuses Manley of "dirtying" the publishing world, prompting Mrs. Manley to tell her son how ashamed she is. Manley, however, insists he is giving the country the "truth" and suggests that she is an ungrateful drunk afraid to leave the luxury he provides her. After only five days on the air, Scott's show is a tremendous success, affording him and his wife Connie the hope that they might be able to provide a better life for their son Joey. Soon after, Manley calls Connie and asks her to his office, where he shows her copy for an article about Scott, revealing her husband's prior conviction for armed robbery. Connie admits that she knows of her husband’s past, but explains that Scott served four years for the crime, which he committed as a teen to try to help his ailing mother Mrs. Doyle, but Manley only laughs at her attempts to dissuade him from running the article. Later at the Martin apartment, just after Seth tells Scott that television executive Charles Orrin Sterling has prepared a lucrative contract for him, Connie shows the men the story, explaining that Manley will drop it if Scott will reveal secrets about Sawyer by Sunday. When Scott expresses his reluctance to destroy Sawyer's career to save his own, Seth warns him that the contract offer will be revoked if his past is revealed. That night, after Scott refuses to divulge any information about Sawyer to Connie, fearing that she will try to save him by telling Manley, a betrayed Connie gives Scott an ultimatum: he must choose between Sawyer and his own family. Scott replies that Manley has already destroyed his family without printing a word. On Sunday, Homer warns Manley that they need an exposé about Sawyer, not an article about Scott, to generate sufficient profit to pay the debt. Later, Scott tells Manley he will not reveal Sawyer's secret, rebuking the publisher for already destroying what was most important to him, his wife and son, who have left him and moved to his mother's apartment over the dilemma. When Manley threatens him, Scott punches the executive and leaves. After Sterling is informed of the situation and warns the entertainer that disillusioning the kids is "bad for business," Scott goes to his mother's apartment to carefully explain his criminal past and express his regret to Joey. Scott cautions the boy that his friends will chide him at school when the article comes out, but Joey tells Scott that he is the “greatest dad.” Once the article is published, thousands of parents protest Scott’s show, forcing Sterling to cancel it. Meanwhile, Connie, realizing she no long has anything to fear, blames herself for failing her husband in his time of need. She then decides to pick Joey up from school and reunite with Scott. As school lets out and dozens of children taunt Joey about his "jailbird" father, the boy flees the schoolyard into the street, where he is hit and killed by a car. After learning of his son's death that evening, Scott rushes to his mother's and finds Connie hysterical. Soon after, Seth tells the grief-stricken father that Frank Frederick, the host of What Do You Read , has invited Scott to share his story that night on the air in hopes of setting the record straight. Scott at first blames himself, but then looking at Joey's picture, realizes that Real Truth must be stopped. Later that evening, when Mrs. Manley visits Connie to ask if there was any connection between her son’s actions and their son's death, Connie blames Manley for the tragedy. Meanwhile, at the What Do You Read taping, Scott tells the audience what joy Joey had brought to him and Connie and then proceeds to argue that anyone who bought Real Truth contributed to his death, even if unknowingly doing so. Scott hopes that the next person the readers “poison” will not be their loved one. At the Manley house, after mother and son watch Scott's address, Manley excitedly explains to Homer over the phone that Scott's plea will generate more publicity and thus the necessary sales to save the publication. Watching her son's contemptuous joy, Mrs. Manley pulls a gun from a desk drawer and kills him. When Seth finds Scott and Connie walking home later that night and tells them that the public is upset and will not be buying the magazine, Scott shrugs and replies, "maybe." +

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

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