Blue Denim (1959)

89 mins | Drama | July 1959

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HISTORY

The film opens with the following written quote: "Youth is like spring, an over-praised season. Samuel Butler." According to a HR news item in Aug 1958, Dick Powell was to take over the production reins from Henry Ephron. Only Charles Brackett is credited onscreen as producer, however. At that time, Ray Stricklyn tested for the part of "Arthur." An Apr 1958 LAEx news item adds that Diane Varsi, Hope Lange and Lee Remick were considered for the role of "Janet."
       Carol Lynley and Warren Berlinger reprised their roles from the Broadway production of James Leo Herlihy and William Noble's play. According to the Var review, in the play, Janet goes through with the abortion. In an Aug 1959 HR news item, producer Charles Brackett stated that he decided to eliminate the abortion because it would have made the story more anecdotal than dramatic, and that the PCA played no role in his decision. Although a Sep 1960 LAEx news item states that Twentieth Century-Fox considered producing a sequel entitled Blue Denim Baby , that picture was never made. ... More Less

The film opens with the following written quote: "Youth is like spring, an over-praised season. Samuel Butler." According to a HR news item in Aug 1958, Dick Powell was to take over the production reins from Henry Ephron. Only Charles Brackett is credited onscreen as producer, however. At that time, Ray Stricklyn tested for the part of "Arthur." An Apr 1958 LAEx news item adds that Diane Varsi, Hope Lange and Lee Remick were considered for the role of "Janet."
       Carol Lynley and Warren Berlinger reprised their roles from the Broadway production of James Leo Herlihy and William Noble's play. According to the Var review, in the play, Janet goes through with the abortion. In an Aug 1959 HR news item, producer Charles Brackett stated that he decided to eliminate the abortion because it would have made the story more anecdotal than dramatic, and that the PCA played no role in his decision. Although a Sep 1960 LAEx news item states that Twentieth Century-Fox considered producing a sequel entitled Blue Denim Baby , that picture was never made. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Aug 1959.
---
Box Office
10 Aug 1959.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jul 59
p. 3.
Film Daily
29 Jul 59
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 58
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 59
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 59
p. 6, 28.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 59
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 59
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 1959.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
9 Apr 1958.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
28 Sep 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Aug 59
p. 356.
New York Times
31 Jul 59
p. 21.
Variety
29 Jul 59
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Dial dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Blue Denim by James Leo Herlihy and William Noble (New York, 27 Feb 1958).
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1959
Production Date:
late March--late April 1959
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
30 July 1959
Copyright Number:
LP14427
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
89
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Arthur Bartley, a sensitive adolescent, comes home from school one day to find that his father Malcolm has put his beloved dog to sleep. Malcolm, a former Army major, treats his son like one of his enlistees, thus alienating the boy. As Arthur and his father clash, Lillian, Arthur's sister, blissfully readies for her wedding to dentist Axel Sorenson. That night, Arthur's smart aleck friend Ernie comes to the house, and using the pretense that they have to study, the boys disappear into the cellar, where they play poker and drink beer. Ernie, feigning an aura of sophistication, boasts that he has arranged for a friend to get an abortion. Soon after, Janet Willard, an earnest young girl who has a crush on Arthur, comes to the cellar to ask Ernie to forge her father's signature on an absentee excuse from school. After Ernie leaves, Janet flatters Arthur into kissing her. Upon returning home, Janet rebels when her father, Professor Jim Willard, compares her to his angelic late wife. Janet worries that her erudite father will intimidate her friends with his aloof, intellectual demeanor. Later, at a school basketball game, Janet watches Arthur with adoring eyes as he plays with the team. Janet waits for Arthur after the game, and when he offers to walk her home, she asks if they can go steady. Janet then confides that she is a virgin and asks Arthur if he has ever had sex. At first Arthur claims that he is sexually experienced, but then confesses that he is a virgin, too. They laugh at their response, then embrace and make love. Some months ... +


Arthur Bartley, a sensitive adolescent, comes home from school one day to find that his father Malcolm has put his beloved dog to sleep. Malcolm, a former Army major, treats his son like one of his enlistees, thus alienating the boy. As Arthur and his father clash, Lillian, Arthur's sister, blissfully readies for her wedding to dentist Axel Sorenson. That night, Arthur's smart aleck friend Ernie comes to the house, and using the pretense that they have to study, the boys disappear into the cellar, where they play poker and drink beer. Ernie, feigning an aura of sophistication, boasts that he has arranged for a friend to get an abortion. Soon after, Janet Willard, an earnest young girl who has a crush on Arthur, comes to the cellar to ask Ernie to forge her father's signature on an absentee excuse from school. After Ernie leaves, Janet flatters Arthur into kissing her. Upon returning home, Janet rebels when her father, Professor Jim Willard, compares her to his angelic late wife. Janet worries that her erudite father will intimidate her friends with his aloof, intellectual demeanor. Later, at a school basketball game, Janet watches Arthur with adoring eyes as he plays with the team. Janet waits for Arthur after the game, and when he offers to walk her home, she asks if they can go steady. Janet then confides that she is a virgin and asks Arthur if he has ever had sex. At first Arthur claims that he is sexually experienced, but then confesses that he is a virgin, too. They laugh at their response, then embrace and make love. Some months later at the school dance, Janet moodily runs off to the library, and when Arthur follows, he finds her studying a book about pregnancy. When Janet insists on hiding her condition from her father, they decide to apply for a marriage license, but are turned away because they are underage. As Janet becomes more despondent, Arthur asks Ernie to arrange for an abortion. When Ernie denounces abortion as murder, Arthur, provoked, attacks him, and Ernie admits that he was bluffing about knowing an abortionist. Desperate, Arthur begs Ernie for help and together they locate a soda jerk who offers to arrange an abortion for $150. After selling their possessions, the boys are short $90. Still opposed to the idea of an abortion, Ernie admonishes Arthur to marry Janet, but Arthur protests that he is not ready to rear a child. Ernie finally convinces Arthur to tell his parents about the baby, but when he tries to raise the issue with his mother Jessie, she is so engrossed with Lillian's wedding that she misunderstands and thinks that he is asking for advice about sex. Arthur next turns to his father, who is so preoccupied with the cost of the wedding that he refuses to let Arthur speak and instead advises him to enlist in the Army, where his financial future will be assured. Desperate, Arthur steals a blank check from his father and has Ernie forge the major's signature. After the wedding, Lillian and Axel leave for their honeymoon while Janet anxiously awaits the car that will take her to the abortionist. When the vehicle arrives, Janet begs Arthur to cancel the abortion. She then resolutely climbs in and drives away, and Ernie chastises Arthur for lacking the courage to tell his parents the truth. When the banker presents Malcolm with the forged check, Malcolm confronts Arthur, who breaks into hysterics. Alarmed, Malcolm shows concern and Arthur finally tells him about the abortion. After eliciting the location of the abortionist from the soda jerk, Malcolm, Professor Willard and Arthur speed to the doctor's office, arriving just in time to prevent the operation. They take the sedated Janet home, where Professor Willard and the Bartleys engage in self-recrimination. Realizing that they failed Arthur when he turned to them for help, the Bartleys worry that fatherhood will severely curtail their son's future. After Professor Willard vows to abide by his daughter's wishes, Janet awakens and declares that she initiated the sexual relationship and therefore Arthur should not be held responsible. Soon after, Arthur learns that Janet has left town to stay with an aunt while awaiting the delivery of their baby. Stricken with a new sense of responsibility, Arthur decides to meet Janet's train at its next stop and marry her. With his father's blessings, Arthur hurries to the station, and when the train stops, Janet looks up and is overjoyed to see Arthur. +

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.