The Member of the Wedding (1953)

88 or 91 mins | Drama | March 1953

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Cinematographer:

Hal Mohr

Editor:

William Lyon

Production Designer:

Rudolph Sternad

Production Company:

Stanley Kramer Co., Inc.
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HISTORY

The onscreen credit for Hal Mohr, director of photography, notes that Garutso Balanced Lenses were used. Director Fred Zinnemann, in his autobiography, stated that the new lenses gave an enormous depth of focus. Carson McCullers’ play, which was directed on Broadway by Harold Clurman, won the New York Drama Critics Circle and Donaldson awards as best play for the 1949-50 season. Ethel Waters, Julie Harris, Brandon de Wilde, William Hansen and Harry Bolden recreated their Broadway stage roles for the film. According to news items, in Feb 1951 Stanley Kramer paid $100,000 for the screen rights to the play. A 27 Feb 1951 HR news item indicates that Margaret O’Brien met with Kramer to discuss a role in the film.
       News items noted that Zinemann scouted locations in Georgia, Louisiana for the film’s exteriors, but settled on the small Sacramento Valley town of Colusa, CA. Interiors were shot at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank, CA. A HR item indicates that Charlcie Garrett, who played “Aunt Pet,” also served as a technical advisor for the story’s Southern background. HR casting lists add Bob Haines, Ed Peil, Sr., Peggy Leon and Lulumae Bohrman to the cast, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
       Reviews remarked on the film's faithfulness to the play, but NYT noted that one scene, in which “Frankie” wanders through a disreputable part of town, was taken from the novel rather than the play. Harris, who played the twelve-year-old Frankie, was actually twenty-six at the time of filming. In a ... More Less

The onscreen credit for Hal Mohr, director of photography, notes that Garutso Balanced Lenses were used. Director Fred Zinnemann, in his autobiography, stated that the new lenses gave an enormous depth of focus. Carson McCullers’ play, which was directed on Broadway by Harold Clurman, won the New York Drama Critics Circle and Donaldson awards as best play for the 1949-50 season. Ethel Waters, Julie Harris, Brandon de Wilde, William Hansen and Harry Bolden recreated their Broadway stage roles for the film. According to news items, in Feb 1951 Stanley Kramer paid $100,000 for the screen rights to the play. A 27 Feb 1951 HR news item indicates that Margaret O’Brien met with Kramer to discuss a role in the film.
       News items noted that Zinemann scouted locations in Georgia, Louisiana for the film’s exteriors, but settled on the small Sacramento Valley town of Colusa, CA. Interiors were shot at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank, CA. A HR item indicates that Charlcie Garrett, who played “Aunt Pet,” also served as a technical advisor for the story’s Southern background. HR casting lists add Bob Haines, Ed Peil, Sr., Peggy Leon and Lulumae Bohrman to the cast, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
       Reviews remarked on the film's faithfulness to the play, but NYT noted that one scene, in which “Frankie” wanders through a disreputable part of town, was taken from the novel rather than the play. Harris, who played the twelve-year-old Frankie, was actually twenty-six at the time of filming. In a modern interview, Zinnemann called the film "the best picture that I have ever made."
       Harris received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and Brandon de Wilde won a Golden Globe award for best juvenile actor. In Jun 1958, NBC broadcast a television version of the play, on the DuPont Show of the Month , which was produced by David Susskind, directed by Robert Mulligan, and starred Claudia McNeil, Collin Wilcox and Dennis Kohler. In Dec 1982, NBC Live Theatre broadcast another version, which was directed by Delbert Mann and starred Pearl Bailey, Dana Hill, Howard Rollins and Benjamin Bernouy. In 1986, the publishing house Stock, which owned the French-language adaptation rights to the novel, alleged that the novel was adapted without permission to provide the scenario for the French film L'Effrontée , produced by Oliane Productions and directed by Claude Miller. No further information concerning this has been located. A Hallmark Productions television version, starring Anna Paquin and Alfre Woodard, was broadcast in 1997. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20 Dec 1952.
---
Cue
3 Jan 1953.
---
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1951.
---
Daily Variety
15 Dec 52
p. 3.
Daily Variety
14 Jan 86
p. 14.
Film Daily
18 Dec 52
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
20 Dec 52
p. 203.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 1951
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 1951
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1952
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1952
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1952
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1952
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 1952
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 1952
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 1952
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 1952
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 52
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
26 Dec 1952.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
13 Feb 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 52
pt. II, p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Dec 52
pp. 1645-46.
New York Times
31 Dec 52
p. 10.
New Yorker
3 Jan 1953.
---
Newsweek
12 Jan 1953.
---
Saturday Review
10 Jan 1953.
---
The Exhibitor
31 Dec 52
p. 3437.
Time
29 Dec 1952.
---
Variety
17 Dec 52
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Props
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd eng
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Dir of pub
Scr supv
Tech adv
Loc mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers (Boston, 1946) and her play of the same name, as produced by Robert Whitehead, Oliver Rea and Stanley Martineau (New York, 5 Jan 1950).
SONGS
"His Eye Is on the Sparrow," music and lyrics by Charles H. Gabriel and Mrs. C. D. Martin.
DETAILS
Release Date:
March 1953
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 25 December 1952
New York opening: 30 December 1952
Production Date:
18 June--28 July 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Stanley Kramer Co., Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 February 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2392
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Lenses/Prints
Garutso Balanced Lenses
Duration(in mins):
88 or 91
Length(in feet):
8,236
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16047
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a steamy southern afternoon, Jarvis Addams and his fiancée Janice visit the Addams home to discuss their upcoming wedding. Jarvis' twelve-year-old sister Frances is deeply disturbed by restlessness, loneliness and the conflicting emotions of becoming an adolescent, and her thoughts become fixated on the happy couple. Several days before the wedding, Frankie tells Berenice Sadie Brown, the housekeeper, and John Henry, Frankie's younger cousin, that she plans to leave town and live with the couple after the wedding. Berenice is a practical but soft-hearted widow who, since the death of Frankie's mother, has offered the girl guidance and companionship. She describes her own sadness at the loss of her first husband in order to warn Frankie that she will end up with a broken heart if she imposes herself on the couple. Frankie refuses to listen, however, and during the ceremony, sneaks into the couple's car with her suitcase. When the newlyweds, followed by their families and friends, approach the car, they are stunned to see Frankie in the back seat. Janice gently explains to Frankie that she and her husband wish to be alone on their honeymoon, but Frankie refuses to leave and is dragged screaming from the car. Her father, Berenice and John Henry all try to comfort the girl, but their efforts are fruitless. That night Frankie types her father a farewell letter and runs away. After wandering aimlessly through a disreputable part of town, she enters a bar and meets a drunken soldier. When he tries to kiss her, she breaks free and runs toward home. Meanwhile, Berenice learns that her foster brother Honey, ... +


On a steamy southern afternoon, Jarvis Addams and his fiancée Janice visit the Addams home to discuss their upcoming wedding. Jarvis' twelve-year-old sister Frances is deeply disturbed by restlessness, loneliness and the conflicting emotions of becoming an adolescent, and her thoughts become fixated on the happy couple. Several days before the wedding, Frankie tells Berenice Sadie Brown, the housekeeper, and John Henry, Frankie's younger cousin, that she plans to leave town and live with the couple after the wedding. Berenice is a practical but soft-hearted widow who, since the death of Frankie's mother, has offered the girl guidance and companionship. She describes her own sadness at the loss of her first husband in order to warn Frankie that she will end up with a broken heart if she imposes herself on the couple. Frankie refuses to listen, however, and during the ceremony, sneaks into the couple's car with her suitcase. When the newlyweds, followed by their families and friends, approach the car, they are stunned to see Frankie in the back seat. Janice gently explains to Frankie that she and her husband wish to be alone on their honeymoon, but Frankie refuses to leave and is dragged screaming from the car. Her father, Berenice and John Henry all try to comfort the girl, but their efforts are fruitless. That night Frankie types her father a farewell letter and runs away. After wandering aimlessly through a disreputable part of town, she enters a bar and meets a drunken soldier. When he tries to kiss her, she breaks free and runs toward home. Meanwhile, Berenice learns that her foster brother Honey, a restless musician who is frequently drunk, has been involved in a hit-and-run accident with a stolen car. She gives him all her money and helps him make his getaway. Later, when Frankie arrives home, she learns that Berenice is nursing John Henry, who has become gravely ill. Several months pass, and Frankie, who has made a new friend and is much more confident, enters the room to say goodbye to Berenice. John Henry has died, and because Frankie's family is moving in with the boy's mother, they no longer need a housekeeper. Berenice muses sadly on both the death of John Henry and on Honey's ten-year prison sentence, but Frankie, her mind on the handsome boy down the street, brightly delivers her farewell and skips out of the house. With tears in her eyes and a sad smile on her face, Berenice hums quietly to herself. +

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

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