Top Secret Affair (1957)

99-100 mins | Romantic comedy | 9 February 1957

Director:

H. C. Potter

Producer:

Martin Rackin

Cinematographer:

Stanley Cortez

Production Designer:

Malcolm Bert

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of the film were Their Secret Affair and Melville Goodwin, U.S.A. , which was the title of the John P. Marquand novel from which the characters were derived. According to a Nov 1956 NYT news item, director H. C. Potter claimed that the film’s title was changed to reflect that the screenplay no longer resembled the novel, as screenplay writers, Roland Kibbee and Allan Scott saved only the four main characters from the novel and completely rewrote the plot.
       According to a 6 Oct 1955 DV news item, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were signed to play the leads in the film for United States Pictures. Although a Nov 1955 HR news item stated that production would begin in Jan 1956, a 2 Mar 1956 HR news item reported that Bogart was in the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles for “throat surgery.” His last film, Columbia’s The Harder They Fall (see above), was released in Apr 1956 and he died in Jan 1957 from cancer of the esophagus. A Dec 1955 LAT news item reported that William Clothier and Mal Bert would serve as cameraman and art director, respectively, and Feb and Mar 1956 HR news items stated that Richard Moder would be assistant director and Howard Shoup would be costume designer. However, none of them were involved in the final film. Although Mar 1956 HR and LAT news item reported that Keenan Wynn and Walter Matthau would appear in the film, those roles were assumed by Paul Stewart ... More Less

The working titles of the film were Their Secret Affair and Melville Goodwin, U.S.A. , which was the title of the John P. Marquand novel from which the characters were derived. According to a Nov 1956 NYT news item, director H. C. Potter claimed that the film’s title was changed to reflect that the screenplay no longer resembled the novel, as screenplay writers, Roland Kibbee and Allan Scott saved only the four main characters from the novel and completely rewrote the plot.
       According to a 6 Oct 1955 DV news item, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were signed to play the leads in the film for United States Pictures. Although a Nov 1955 HR news item stated that production would begin in Jan 1956, a 2 Mar 1956 HR news item reported that Bogart was in the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles for “throat surgery.” His last film, Columbia’s The Harder They Fall (see above), was released in Apr 1956 and he died in Jan 1957 from cancer of the esophagus. A Dec 1955 LAT news item reported that William Clothier and Mal Bert would serve as cameraman and art director, respectively, and Feb and Mar 1956 HR news items stated that Richard Moder would be assistant director and Howard Shoup would be costume designer. However, none of them were involved in the final film. Although Mar 1956 HR and LAT news item reported that Keenan Wynn and Walter Matthau would appear in the film, those roles were assumed by Paul Stewart and Jim Backus after the production was later recast with Kirk Douglas and Susan Hayward as the leads.
       Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, Oct and Nov 1956 HR news items add the following actors to the cast: Ezelle Poule, Mushy Callahan, Herbert Lytton, Alan Craige, Bob Carson and Franklyn Farnum. According to an Oct 1956 HR news item, one of the reporters was played by Douglas’ stand-in, Foster Phinney, who, according to the news item, always appears briefly in Douglas’ films for good luck. However, according to modern sources, neither Douglas nor Hayward used a stand-in for the judo sequence. Longtime director John Cromwell appeared in the film as “Gen. Grimshaw.”
       In a scene prior to that of the “high government official” interrupting the inquiry, Goodwin sends “Gooch” to deliver a note to the President asking for an intervention in his case. The official is listed as “personage” in the CBCS and is called “Charlie” in the film, but the implication is that the character is the President. The DV review speculated that Goodwin was fashioned after Gen. George S. Patton. In the HR review, the resemblance between Time magazine and the film’s fictional News World Magazine was noted.
       HR production charts indicated that portions of the film were shot in Santa Maria, CA. An LAEx news item reported that the Beverly Hills estate of E. L. Cord was used in the film. Aerial shots of the Pentagon were also used in the picture. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Jan 1957.
---
Daily Variety
6 Oct 1955.
---
Daily Variety
14 Jan 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Jan 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Nov 1955
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 1956
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Mar 1956
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 1956
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1956
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Oct 1956
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 1956
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1956
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1956
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1956
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1956
p. 5, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 1956
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 1956
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1956
p. 35.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 57
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
11 Nov 1956.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
14 Feb 1957
sec 4, p. 6.
Los Angeles Mirror
14 Feb 1957.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Dec 1955
sec II, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
4 Mar 1956
pt. IV, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
14 Feb 1957.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Jan 57
p. 225.
New York Times
18 Nov 1956.
---
New York Times
31 Jan 57
p. 21.
Newsweek
18 Feb 1957.
---
Saturday Review
2 Feb 1957.
---
Time
4 Feb 1957.
---
Variety
16 Jan 57
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner-Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2nd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Supv prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Best boy
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward
MUSIC
Mus
Orch
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Makeup
Body makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
STAND INS
Stand-in for Kirk Douglas
Stand-in for Susan Hayward
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters from the novel Melville Goodwin, U.S.A. by John P. Marquand (Boston, 1951).
SONGS
"U.S. Field Artillery March (The Caissons Go Rolling Along)," words and music by 1st Lt. Edmund L. Gruber.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Melville Goodwin, U.S.A.
Their Secret Affair
Release Date:
9 February 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 January 1957
Production Date:
10 September--8 November 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 February 1957
Copyright Number:
LP10273
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
99-100
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18331
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Dorothy Peale, the third-generation owner of media conglomerate Peale Enterprises, is livid when she learns that her “Daddy’s best friend” was not appointed chairman of her pet cause, the Joint Atomic International Commission, despite her efforts in using her social status and media power to promote him. Upon learning that the president instead chose war hero, Maj. Gen. Melville A. “Ironpants” Goodwin, she immediately sets out to discredit the soldier. Under the pretense of doing a profile cover story in the Peale publication News World Magazine , Dottie arranges with the chief of staff, Gen. Daniel A. Grimshaw, for Goodwin to spend the weekend at her Long Island estate for a personal interview. Expecting positive publicity for the Army, Grimshaw orders public information officer Col. Homer W. Gooch to accompany Goodwin. In preparation for Goodwin’s visit, Dottie hides a tape recorder in her living room, while also displaying military flags and his portrait, hoping to gain his trust. She orders Lotzie, her Russian photographer, secretly to take compromising photos of Goodwin using special cameras. Meanwhile, her most trusted employee, Phil Bentley, researches Goodwin’s background for incriminating stories, and finds, among other things, a history of girl friends that might suggest womanizing. Gooch and Sgt. Kruger arrive early to put boards under the mattress on which Goodwin will sleep and check out the environment. At the exact appointed time, the general marches in, unassuming, courteous and ready to begin. Bentley starts by asking a loaded question, which the alert Goodwin catches and ... +


Dorothy Peale, the third-generation owner of media conglomerate Peale Enterprises, is livid when she learns that her “Daddy’s best friend” was not appointed chairman of her pet cause, the Joint Atomic International Commission, despite her efforts in using her social status and media power to promote him. Upon learning that the president instead chose war hero, Maj. Gen. Melville A. “Ironpants” Goodwin, she immediately sets out to discredit the soldier. Under the pretense of doing a profile cover story in the Peale publication News World Magazine , Dottie arranges with the chief of staff, Gen. Daniel A. Grimshaw, for Goodwin to spend the weekend at her Long Island estate for a personal interview. Expecting positive publicity for the Army, Grimshaw orders public information officer Col. Homer W. Gooch to accompany Goodwin. In preparation for Goodwin’s visit, Dottie hides a tape recorder in her living room, while also displaying military flags and his portrait, hoping to gain his trust. She orders Lotzie, her Russian photographer, secretly to take compromising photos of Goodwin using special cameras. Meanwhile, her most trusted employee, Phil Bentley, researches Goodwin’s background for incriminating stories, and finds, among other things, a history of girl friends that might suggest womanizing. Gooch and Sgt. Kruger arrive early to put boards under the mattress on which Goodwin will sleep and check out the environment. At the exact appointed time, the general marches in, unassuming, courteous and ready to begin. Bentley starts by asking a loaded question, which the alert Goodwin catches and answers on his own terms. During the questioning, he proves intelligent, competitive and commanding, but not the warlord Dottie has expected. Although he sees through Dottie’s lie that his portrait has been hanging on her wall for years, he is too polite to contradict her. However, he does fall prey to one of her traps, a bongo board that she has displayed on a coffee table. The toy, which is operated by standing on a board balanced on a cylinder, appeals to his sporting nature, and he tries it out, gaining proficiency immediately. Although Dottie had hoped he would provide a photo opportunity by falling off, Goodwin maintains his balance, while continuing the interview. From the bongo board, he provides credible explanations for the incriminating rumors that Bentley collected. The next morning, following his daily exercises, he shows Dottie judo self-defense moves, but after the demonstration, she claims she would rather carry a gun. After three days, during which the reporters uncover nothing scandalous, Dottie decides to try an uncharacteristic, femme fatale approach, which she calls “night maneuvers.” Although Goodwin senses that Dottie is looking for information other than the usual P.R. stories, he is pleased when she invites him for a “night on the town” alone with her. After careful pre-planning, she takes him to an expensive restaurant, where she plies him with drinks and “accidentally” pushes him onto a table while dancing. Although photographers hired by Dottie secretly snap photos of him at awkward moments, he remains sober and well-mannered throughout the evening. Later, Dottie takes Goodwin to a nightclub where she has arranged an “amateur night,” and she maneuvers him into singing against his will for the crowd. Reluctantly, he stiffly sings “The Caissons Go Rolling Along,” and afterward, feeling a fool, returns to Long Island without her. He is packing to leave when she catches up with him, a little ashamed and very intoxicated, and lures him out to her swimming pool. Pacing on the diving board in an evening dress, she tells him that she secretly desires to be married instead of being the “five star general” molded by her father. As she babbles, Goodwin removes his shoes and coat in preparation for her inevitable fall into the pool. Hours after he rescues her, she is sober and, while he fills her in on what she cannot remember, the situation turns passionate. The next morning, the love-besotted Dottie orders a “shift in the magazine’s editorial policy” and makes plans for Goodwin to marry her and become President of the United States. However, Goodwin tells her that he plans to return to Washington alone. After explaining that the one person he loved turned out to be a spy to whom he gave military information and later had to execute, he says that, having been betrayed once, he can never marry. After he marches out of her life, she re-reverses her editorial policy and plans the cover story, “Blabbermouth Goodwin.” In Washington, although Goodwin is congratulated for what is expected to be a favorable story, he appears glum and distracted. To Gooch, he confides that he made the wrong decision and then rushes to Dottie’s doorstep to propose marriage. As a gift, knowing that she has everything, he presents her with a gun owned by Hermann Göring that he found in the course of his duty. Meanwhile, the magazine has hit the stands and prompts a Senate inquiry. With the investigation pending, Goodwin is denied permission to reveal classified information that would help his case. At the hearing run by an unsympathetic, publicity-seeking senator, Goodwin is not allowed to explain the context of the incriminating photographs. As for the women in his past, he is able to explain that “Miss Sutsiyama” was a seven-year-old war orphan he protected, but he refuses to explain an “Yvette de Fresney,” to whom he is accused of giving military information. Dottie is subpoenaed to testify and, ashamed, admits that everything in the article was falsified. Publicly, she apologizes to Goodwin and resigns her post as editor, but she cannot deny the “Yvette” story. Just as the senators prepare to take further action, a high government official enters and announces that certain information has been declassified. Goodwin is then able to explain how, after discovering that Yvette, the woman he loved, was a spy, he was ordered to provide her with false information to confound the enemy. His reputation restored, Goodwin rescues Dottie from an angry mob that is harassing her and drives her away, intending to marry. +

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

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