The Age of Innocence (1993)

PG | 133 mins | Drama, Romance | 1 October 1993

Director:

Martin Scorsese

Producer:

Barbara De Fina

Cinematographer:

Michael Ballhaus

Production Designer:

Dante Ferretti

Production Companies:

Columbia Pictures, Cappa/De Fina
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HISTORY

The film contains intermittent voice-over narration by Joanne Woodward, explaining the customs and etiquette of the time period during which the story is set. The Oct 1993 issue of Vogue magazine suggested that Woodward’s narration was used as an “audible stand-in” for novelist Edith Wharton, and embraced the supposedly “uncommercial” use of an authoritative female voice.
       According to a 28 Jun 1992 NYT article, Jay Cocks, a music critic for Time magazine, urged filmmaker Martin Scorsese to read Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel, The Age of Innocence, in the early 1980s. Due to his commitments to complete After Hours (1985, see entry), The Color of Money (1986, see entry), and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, see entry), Scorsese did not consider creating a motion picture adaptation until rereading the material in 1987. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated he and Cocks collaborated on the screenplay, and the first draft was completed in Feb 1989. The 15 Nov 1990 DV announced that Daniel Day-Lewis agreed to star in the project as part of a two-picture deal with Twentieth Century Fox, which also included The Last of the Mohicans (1992, see entry). The Age of Innocence was initially scheduled to begin production in fall of 1991, with Scorsese also producing alongside his then-wife, Barbara De Fina. However, De Fina is the only producer listed onscreen.
       On 18 Oct 1991, HR announced that Fox decided to drop the picture due to its escalating budget, now over $30 million. Despite Scorsese’s exclusive deal with Universal Pictures, the studio also decided ... More Less

The film contains intermittent voice-over narration by Joanne Woodward, explaining the customs and etiquette of the time period during which the story is set. The Oct 1993 issue of Vogue magazine suggested that Woodward’s narration was used as an “audible stand-in” for novelist Edith Wharton, and embraced the supposedly “uncommercial” use of an authoritative female voice.
       According to a 28 Jun 1992 NYT article, Jay Cocks, a music critic for Time magazine, urged filmmaker Martin Scorsese to read Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel, The Age of Innocence, in the early 1980s. Due to his commitments to complete After Hours (1985, see entry), The Color of Money (1986, see entry), and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, see entry), Scorsese did not consider creating a motion picture adaptation until rereading the material in 1987. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated he and Cocks collaborated on the screenplay, and the first draft was completed in Feb 1989. The 15 Nov 1990 DV announced that Daniel Day-Lewis agreed to star in the project as part of a two-picture deal with Twentieth Century Fox, which also included The Last of the Mohicans (1992, see entry). The Age of Innocence was initially scheduled to begin production in fall of 1991, with Scorsese also producing alongside his then-wife, Barbara De Fina. However, De Fina is the only producer listed onscreen.
       On 18 Oct 1991, HR announced that Fox decided to drop the picture due to its escalating budget, now over $30 million. Despite Scorsese’s exclusive deal with Universal Pictures, the studio also decided to pass, also citing high production costs. As a result, the 17 Dec 1991 HR named The Age of Innocence as one of two films Scorsese would be allowed to make outside Universal. The 6 Dec 1991 Screen International reported that the project had moved to Columbia Pictures as the first property acquired by newly-installed chairman Mark Canton, whom the 26 Aug 1993 HR indicated had an established relationship with Scorsese from their previous collaborations at Warner Bros. The film also reunited Scorsese with his frequent collaborators, director of photography Michael Ballhaus and editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
       With Day-Lewis already signed, Scorsese cast Michelle Pfeiffer as “Ellen Olenska” based on his admiration for her performance in Married to the Mob (1988, see entry). He selected Winona Ryder to portray “May Welland” after meeting the actress for the first time at an event in Los Angeles, CA.
       During preproduction, Scorsese spent several years extensively researching the customs of the late nineteenth-century upper class. The 26 Sep 1992 NYT stated that the director drew inspiration from two other period films, The Heiress (1949, see entry), and Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (1963), which he screened for the cast and crew. According to the Oct 1993 edition of Us magazine, etiquette consultant Lily Lodge worked with Scorsese and the actors for five months, and remained on call for last-minute questions throughout production. Various contemporary sources reported that Lodge was the granddaughter of Elizabeth David Frelinghuysen and David Cabot Lodge, who were friends of Edith Wharton. End credits also acknowledge Letitia Baldridge; a 20 Nov 1994 Parade column noted that Baldrige was the former White House social secretary under First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The NYT article stated that Pfeiffer studied nineteenth-century speech cadences by listening to audio recordings of writer Louis Auchincloss and Ethel Roosevelt.
       Visual research consultant Robin Standefer was tasked with tracking down the real-life inspirations for Wharton’s characters so Scorsese could accurately determine which paintings to reproduce from their collections. Vogue claimed that Standefer consulted with staff members at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and selected works by the Italian I Macchiaioli Impressionsts, which were among the 500 pieces replicated for the film. The 15 Sep 1993 NYT reported that during her year and a half on the production, Standefer referenced the NY Historical Society, the Johnson & Wales Culinary Archives and Museum in Providence, RI, and the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum curator David McFadden served as the table decoration consultant for the seven dinner scenes along with food stylist Rick Ellis, who consulted his collection of over 4,000 cookbooks to devise the menus. Although Scorsese strived to remain accurate to Wharton’s novel, certain details were altered for visual purposes. One example included changing Roman punch to flower-shaped ice sorbets, which quickly melted due to the heat of the studio lights. As a result, Ellis was required to mold 500 desserts in various stages of consumption for the fourteen actors in the scene. A 30 Sep 1993 Chicago Tribune article claimed Ellis carved all meat onscreen himself, and was once forced to house multiple live turtles in his hotel bathroom when a scene depicting the preparation of turtle soup was delayed.
       The “Screen Style” segment of the 17 Sep 1993 LAT specified that the House of Tirelli in Rome, Italy, created the costumes worn by Day-Lewis, Ryder, and Pfeiffer, credited onscreen as Tirelli Costumi Roma. All other outfits were crafted by Barbara Matera in NY. Shoes were made by the Italian company, Pompei, and "Newland’s" black silk robe was an authentic vintage piece.
       24 Mar 1992 HR production charts announced that principal photography began that day. A 6 Feb 1992 HR item indicated filming was expected relocate to Troy, NY, in mid-Mar 1992. The city’s antiquated River Street was transformed into New York City’s Wall Street, while the interior of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house was used for the home of “Mrs. Mingott.” Interiors of the “Beaufort” home were shot at the National Arts Club, formerly known as the Tilden House, on New York City’s Gramercy Park. A 24 Oct 1993 NYT article revealed various other properties used for exteriors: For the fictional patroon house, filmmakers selected the Columbia County Historical Society’s 1737 Luykas Van Alen house in Kinderhook, NY. Although Wharton based the Mingott home on the residence of her aunt, Mary Mason Jones, that house at the corner of New York City’s 57th Street and Fifth Avenue was demolished in 1929. In addition to the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house, filmmakers used matte paintings to depict the exteriors of the Mingott mansion and surrounding streets as they would have appeared in the 1870s. Matte paintings were also used for the skylights above Newland and Ellen as they meet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Apr 2000 edition of Architectural Digest named Nuits, the Italian-style villa in Ardsley-on-Hudson, Irvington, NY, as the location for Mrs. Mingott’s country home. The 11 Jun 1992 HR stated that four days of filming took place at the Academy of Music in Phliadelphia, PA, with 900 background actors and 1,100 photographic cut-outs used as the audience of an opera performance. The 7 Jul 1992 DV stated that Day-Lewis had previously filmed scenes at the Louvre. A 25 Aug 1992 DV article noted that the ninety-day production schedule concluded 26 Jun 1992.
       In addition to Scorsese’s uncredited cameo appearance as May’s wedding photographer, the 26 Sep 1992 NYT stated the director included his parents, Catherine and Charles Scorsese, in a shot at a railway station.
       Various contemporary sources listed the final budget between $30-$35 million. According to a 3 Sep 1993 LAT article, competing studios listed the figure at more than $40 million, but Barbara De Fina denied those rumors, stating that Day-Lewis and Pfeiffer both accepted reduced salaries to help minimize costs.
       Although the picture was originally scheduled to open 25 Dec 1992, the 25 Aug 1992 DV announced that Columbia decided to delay release until fall 1993. The change was made to allow Scorsese, who typically spent twelve months in postproduction, enough time to add narration, music, and scoring. The 26 Aug 1993 HR stated that Columbia first viewed an incomplete cut in spring 1992, and held multiple preview screenings before music scoring began the following summer. A 21 Jun 1993 Var item reported that Steven Danenberg of Wedo’s Music contracted an eighty-one piece orchestra to perform Elmer Bernstein’s score.
       While many felt the genre and subject matter were a surprising departure from Scorsese’s previous work, a 27 Aug 1993 HR article suggested The Age of Innocence challenged marketing executives trying to simultaneously appeal to Scorsese’s largely male fanbase and the film’s core female audience. In addition to running a trailer before Tri-Star’s romantic comedy, Sleepless in Seattle (1993, see entry), the studio hoped to generate word-of-mouth publicity through a gradual release. The 30 Aug 1993 HR explained that the picture would initially open in sixteen cities on 17 Sep 1993, before expanding to 125 theaters on 24 Sep 1993. The film was then scheduled to reach over 700 theaters by 1 Oct 1993, and more than 1,000 theaters on 8 Oct 1993. The 3 Sep 1993 LAT stated that Columbia also planned to air a thirty-minute behind-the-scenes television special on HBO.
       As stated in the 3 Sep 1993 HR, The Age of Innocence was positively received as the opening night film at Italy’s Venice Film Festival on 31 Aug 1993, where it played out of competition. The 30 Aug 1993 HR announced plans for the 13 Sep 1993 New York City premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre, with proceeds benefitting the NY Historical Society. The 15 Oct 1993 LA Weekly reported a domestic gross of $20 million to date, but did not expect the picture to earn much more than its production costs, which did not include the additional $10-$15 million spent on marketing.
       Along with largely positive reviews, The Age of Innocence won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, and was nominated in the following categories: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Original Score, and Best Supporting Actress (Winona Ryder). Ryder received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, while the film also earned nominations for Best Motion Picture –Drama, Best Director, and Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama (Michelle Pfeiffer).
       An end title card displays the following dedication from screenwriter-director Martin Scorsese: “For my father Luciano Charles Scorsese.” End credits include the acknowledgments: “Special Thanks to: Furs provided by Fendi, Schumacher Fabrics, Crystal Items and  Baccarat 1992, Select Artwork Consultation by Christie’s, Stationary provided by Tiffany & Co., Costumes by Tirelli Costumi Roma and Barbara Matera Ltd. N.Y., Costume jewelry by Gioielli L.A.B.A Roma, New York Historical Society, Ms. Letitia Baldridge"; “The Producers wish to thank the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development and the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting for their extensive assistance, as well as the City of Troy"; “With thanks to the City Hall of Paris, Remerciements à la Mairie de Paris"; and, “Stage Facilities by Kaufman Astoria Studios, New York.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Architectural Digest
Apr 2000.
---
Chicago Tribune
30 Sep 1993.
---
Daily Variety
15 Nov 1990.
---
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1992.
---
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1992
p. 1, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 1991
p. 1, 61.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Feb 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jun 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1993
p. 6, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 1993
p. 12, 27.
LA Weekly
15 Oct 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Sep 1993
Section F, p. 1, 15.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1993
Section F, p. 1, 10-11.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1993.
---
New York Times
28 Jun 1992
pp. 11-12.
New York Times
26 Sep 1992.
---
New York Times
15 Sep 1993
Section C, p. 3.
New York Times
17 Sep 1993
Section C, p. 1, 10, 19.
New York Times
24 Oct 1993.
---
Parade
20 Nov 1994.
---
Screen International
6 Dec 1991.
---
Us
Oct 1993
p. 41.
Variety
21 Jun 1993.
---
Variety
13 Sep 1993
p. 31.
Vogue
Oct 1993
Vol. 183, Issue 10, p. 398.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
A Cappa/De Fina Production
A Martin Scorsese Picture
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr, Paris crew
2d asst dir, Paris crew
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Steadicam op
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Gaffer, Paris crew
Key grip, Paris crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Art dept asst
Art dept asst
Art dir, Paris crew
FILM EDITORS
1st asst film ed
2d asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Key set dresser
Chargeman scenic artist
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const grip
Table decoration consultant
COSTUMES
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Men's ward attendant
Women's ward attendant
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Nineteenth century mus consultant
Orch contractor
SOUND
Prod mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Dial supv
Sd eff ed
Foley supv
ADR ed
Dial ed
Re-rec mixer
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Post prod facilities
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title seq by
Title seq by
Spec eff coord
Spec eff op
Spec eff op
Spec visual eff by
Spec visual eff by, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Spec visual eff by, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Matte artist
Matte photog
Matte photog
Mechanical eff
Opt eff by
DANCE
Dance consultant
MAKEUP
Spec eff makeup
Ms. Pfeiffer's makeup
Hair des
Hairstylist
Hair consultant
Wigs
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Visual res consultant
Asst prod mgr & loc mgr
Animal wrangler
Animal wrangler
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Scorsese
Asst to Mr. Scorsese
Asst to Ms. De Fina
Asst to Ms. De Fina
Asst to Mr. Day-Lewis
Asst to Ms. Pfeiffer
Asst to Ms. Pescucci
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Casting assoc
Dialect coach
Etiquette consultant
Dramaturg
Chef 19th century meals
Extras casting
Extras casting assoc
Extras casting assoc
New York loc assoc
New York loc assoc
Troy loc assoc
Philadelphia loc assoc
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit loc mgr, Paris crew
Prod coord, Paris crew
Unit prod accountant, Paris crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (New York, 1920).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"'Faust' (Opera)," written by Charles F. Gounod
"Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op 13 ('Pathetique')," written by Ludwig van Beethoven
"Radetzky March," written by Johann Strauss I, performed by The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, courtesy of PolyGram Special Markets
+
MUSIC
"'Faust' (Opera)," written by Charles F. Gounod
"Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op 13 ('Pathetique')," written by Ludwig van Beethoven
"Radetzky March," written by Johann Strauss I, performed by The Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, courtesy of PolyGram Special Markets
"Emperor Waltz Op 437," written by Johann Strauss II, performed by The London Philharmonic, courtesy of Collins Classics, by arrangement with Allegro
"Artist's Life," written by Johann Strauss II, performed by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, courtesy of Sony Classical
"Tales From The Vienna Woods
" written by Johann Strauss II, performed by The London Philharmonic, courtesy of Collins Classics by arrangement with Allegro
"Quintet In B Flat Op 87, 3rd Movement," written by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, performed by Academy Chamber Ensemble courtesy of Philips Classics, by arrangement with PolyGram Special Markets.
+
SONGS
"Marble Halls," arranged by Enya, Roma Ryan and Nicky Ryan, performed by Enya, courtesy of Reprise Records and Warner Music U.K. Ltd., by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 October 1993
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 13 September 1993
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 September 1993
Production Date:
24 March--26 June 1992 in New York City and Troy, NY, Philadelphia, and Paris
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 October 1993
Copyright Number:
PA671417
Physical Properties:
Sound
Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in select theatres; Dolby Stereo® in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Shot in Super 35 Format with Arriflex 535
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
133
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31742
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During an opera performance, Newland Archer, a respected member of 1870s New York City society, introduces himself to Countess Ellen Olenska, the scandalously separated wife of a Polish aristocrat and cousin to Newland’s fiancée, May Welland. Ellen reminisces about their childhood flirtation, and after the show, Newland rushes to attend a grandiose party at the Beaufort home, where he intends to publicly announce his engagement to May. Despite his respect for family tradition, Newland silently questions the conformity of his peers as they dance around the ballroom and gossip about the dissolution of Ellen’s marriage. The next day, May shows off her engagement ring to her well-connected maternal grandmother, Mrs. Manson Mingott, who pressures the young couple to wed as soon as possible so their families can be joined together. On their way out the door, Newland bumps into Ellen and Julius Beaufort, recently returned from a walk through the city. Although his family quietly criticizes Ellen’s “eccentricity” and “impropriety” with men, Newland refuses to blame Ellen for engaging in an affair while married to a gambling and philandering husband. Three days later, Mrs. Mingott prepares to host a lavish dinner to introduce Ellen to New York society, but her entire guest list shuns the countess by declining the invitation. Frustrated, Newland appeals the gossip to New York’s most powerful family, the van der Luydens, who are quickly assured of Ellen’s legitimacy within the Welland-Archer family and invite her to a dinner the following week. There, she unknowingly breaks social norms by arriving late and ending a conversation to speak with Newland about intimate subjects, such as his affection for May. She invites him to her house the following ... +


During an opera performance, Newland Archer, a respected member of 1870s New York City society, introduces himself to Countess Ellen Olenska, the scandalously separated wife of a Polish aristocrat and cousin to Newland’s fiancée, May Welland. Ellen reminisces about their childhood flirtation, and after the show, Newland rushes to attend a grandiose party at the Beaufort home, where he intends to publicly announce his engagement to May. Despite his respect for family tradition, Newland silently questions the conformity of his peers as they dance around the ballroom and gossip about the dissolution of Ellen’s marriage. The next day, May shows off her engagement ring to her well-connected maternal grandmother, Mrs. Manson Mingott, who pressures the young couple to wed as soon as possible so their families can be joined together. On their way out the door, Newland bumps into Ellen and Julius Beaufort, recently returned from a walk through the city. Although his family quietly criticizes Ellen’s “eccentricity” and “impropriety” with men, Newland refuses to blame Ellen for engaging in an affair while married to a gambling and philandering husband. Three days later, Mrs. Mingott prepares to host a lavish dinner to introduce Ellen to New York society, but her entire guest list shuns the countess by declining the invitation. Frustrated, Newland appeals the gossip to New York’s most powerful family, the van der Luydens, who are quickly assured of Ellen’s legitimacy within the Welland-Archer family and invite her to a dinner the following week. There, she unknowingly breaks social norms by arriving late and ending a conversation to speak with Newland about intimate subjects, such as his affection for May. She invites him to her house the following evening, but returns home late after spending the afternoon looking for a more “fashionable” residence with Julius Beaufort. Overwhelmed by the control of her family, Ellen requests Newland’s advice about acclimating to New York society, prompting him to send her a bouquet of yellow roses. Against her family’s wishes, Ellen announces her intent to divorce her husband, but Newland is pressured to use his influence as an attorney to dissuade her. While conferring with Ellen later that evening, Newland warns that the salacious details of her public divorce proceedings will inevitably harm her reputation, and she agrees to trust his judgment. Sometime later, while May is away on an annual vacation, Newland is emotionally moved by a theatrical performance about forbidden lovers, which Ellen compares to their own relationship. The next day, Ellen seeks respite at the van der Luyden’s country home, and Newland accepts an invitation to stay at a nearby house on the Hudson River. They reunite while walking toward an old patroon house, where they build a fire. Standing at the window, Newland fantasizes about Ellen wrapping her arms around him, but the reverie is interrupted by the arrival of Julius Beaufort, who announces that he has found Ellen a new house. Rejecting Ellen’s apologetic letters, Newland reconnects with May in hopes of advancing their engagement. May refuses the request, suspecting that Newland is rushing marriage in order to repress his feelings for another woman. He denies her claims, but remains disillusioned by May’s naiveté and traditional views of society. Later, Newland is disgusted to discover that Ellen’s husband wants her back, and implores her not to return. He declares his love, but she rejects him, arguing that the cruelty of betraying May would go against his kind nature. Just then, Ellen receives a telegram from May announcing that she has agreed to wed Newland in a month. As the couple honeymoons in Europe, Newland settles into married life and forces himself to forget Ellen. More than a year later, Newland and May visit Mrs. Mingott’s country house, and Newland is sent to fetch Ellen from the riverside. He watches her silhouette against the setting sun, but unable to approach her, returns to the house alone. One afternoon, Newland learns that Ellen has traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, and follows her there. He finds her in a park, and she admits that she plans to see her husband’s secretary to discuss her possible return to Europe. Newland convinces her to skip the meeting and spend the day with him. As they discuss their relationship, Newland bitterly blames Ellen for giving him his “first glimpse at a real life” before convincing him to stay with May. Ellen promises to ignore her husband's plea as long as she can continue to see Newland socially. In New York, Newland is visited by Rivière, the Count’s secretary, who urges him to preserve Ellen’s happiness by keeping her in America. When the failure of the Beaufort family business threatens the standing of many New York families, Mrs. Mingott suffers a stroke, and Ellen returns from her stay in Washington, D.C. to care for her. Newland eagerly offers to pick her up at the train station, and the two intimately embrace in the carriage ride home. Knowing that Newland will not turn his back on society by abandoning his marriage, Ellen refuses to be his mistress and declares they will never be happy. Increasingly frustrated by May’s “emptiness,” Newland plans to consummate his affair by sending Ellen the key to a private apartment, but the envelope is eventually returned to him unopened. When Newland attempts to tell his wife about his feelings for Ellen, May interrupts to inform him that the countess will be returning to Europe. As the couple hosts a farewell dinner for Ellen, Newland wonders if May and their acquaintances knew of his affair and conspired in Ellen’s departure. When the guests leave, Newland suggests he escape New York by traveling to Asia, but May announces she is pregnant and already shared the news with Ellen some weeks earlier. As the years pass, Newland raises two sons and a daughter, who achieve respected professions and marriages, but, like their father, secretly reject May’s conventional attitudes. When May dies of pneumonia shortly after the birth of their youngest child, Bill, Newland genuinely mourns her passing. At age fifty-seven, he receives a telephone call from his eldest son, Theodore “Ted” Archer, inviting him on a trip to Europe. In Paris, France, Ted surprises Newland by arranging a meeting with Ellen, who is an acquaintance of his fiancée. He implies knowledge of Newland's past, claiming that before her death, May informed him that Newland would be a dutiful father because he was once willing to give up the thing he wanted most. Still unsure if he wishes to see Ellen, Newland sits on a bench outside her apartment and sends Ted upstairs with the excuse that he is “old fashioned.” As Newland looks up at her window, the glare of the sun reminds him of Ellen standing along the waterfront, and he imagines her face as she turns around. When the memory fades, Newland rises from the bench and walks away. +

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

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