I Was an Adventuress (1940)

79-81 mins | Drama | 10 May 1940

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HISTORY

A working title for this film was European Plan. According to onscreen credits, the 1938 French picture, J'étais une Aventurière, on which I Was an Adventuress was based, was produced by Gregor Rabinovitsch. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library credits Jane Hinton Smith with translating the film into English. According to a Mar 1939 HR news item, at the time that Twentieth Century-Fox acquired the rights to remake the French film, Myrna Loy and Warner Baxter were announced as the stars. Jul 1939 HR news items indicate that the film, which was then slated as a "top budget picture" starring Marlene Dietrich, was moved over to the Sol Wurtzel unit and set for production as a "programmer." In Oct 1939, a HR news item noted that actress Madeleine Carroll was set to play the female lead following the studio's failure to negotiate a deal with Dietrich for the part.
       Although a 9 Dec 1939 HR production chart indicates that production on the film began on 8 Dec, under the direction of Ricardo Cortez, subsequent production charts and news items suggest that filming did not begin until 15 or 18 Dec. The inclusion of film footage that may have been directed by Cortez in the released film has not been determined. HR production charts list actors Albert Conti, George Humbert and Anna Demetrio in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to HR pre-release news items, James Havens directed the second unit, which was set ...

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A working title for this film was European Plan. According to onscreen credits, the 1938 French picture, J'étais une Aventurière, on which I Was an Adventuress was based, was produced by Gregor Rabinovitsch. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library credits Jane Hinton Smith with translating the film into English. According to a Mar 1939 HR news item, at the time that Twentieth Century-Fox acquired the rights to remake the French film, Myrna Loy and Warner Baxter were announced as the stars. Jul 1939 HR news items indicate that the film, which was then slated as a "top budget picture" starring Marlene Dietrich, was moved over to the Sol Wurtzel unit and set for production as a "programmer." In Oct 1939, a HR news item noted that actress Madeleine Carroll was set to play the female lead following the studio's failure to negotiate a deal with Dietrich for the part.
       Although a 9 Dec 1939 HR production chart indicates that production on the film began on 8 Dec, under the direction of Ricardo Cortez, subsequent production charts and news items suggest that filming did not begin until 15 or 18 Dec. The inclusion of film footage that may have been directed by Cortez in the released film has not been determined. HR production charts list actors Albert Conti, George Humbert and Anna Demetrio in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to HR pre-release news items, James Havens directed the second unit, which was set for filming on location in Orange County, CA, and associate producer Nunnally Johnson was to participate in preparing the script. HR news items also indicate that star Vera Zorina was forced to suspend her work on the film at least twice during production: In late Dec, Zorina was reported to have collapsed on the set following her recuperation from a bout with influenza, which, along with "an approaching nervous breakdown," was attributed to the star's fourteen hour-a-day shooting schedule; and in Feb 1940, Zorina was ordered to stop rehearsals for the ballet sequence when she developed an inflammation of the ankles.
       Studio publicity records relate the following information: director Gregory Ratoff insisted on an all-European cast for this film, and banned all discussion of the war in Europe or international politics on the set in order to prevent fighting among cast members. To demonstrate how he wanted each scene performed, Ratoff reportedly acted out every scene in the film. Ratoff also insisted that the jewels in the film be real, so he borrowed jewels (valued at $300,000) from a jewelry store and hired studio police and private guards to keep watch over them during production. Vera Zorina, whose real name was Brigita Hartwig, was married to dance director George Balanchine. The twelve minute ballet sequence of "Swan Lake" was the longest ballet scene to appear in any film to date. For the scene, a $15,000 all-glass set, the first of its kind, was built using 40,000 square feet of 1/4 inch plate glass. Jack Lorenz, a studio electrician, fell to his death from a thirty-foot high catwalk while lighting a scene for the film.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1940
p. 3
Film Daily
24 May 1940
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 1939
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1939
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1939
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 1939
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 1939
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1939
p. 5, 7
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1939
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1939
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1939
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 1939
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 1940
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1940
p. 3
Motion Picture Daily
3 May 1940
p. 9
Motion Picture Herald
24 Feb 1940
p. 33
Motion Picture Herald
4 May 1940
p. 36
New York Times
20 May 1940
p. 13
Variety
15-Feb-39
---
Variety
1 May 1940
p. 18
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Zorina's gown by
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
DANCE
Dances staged by
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the 1939 French film J'étais une Aventurière , written by Jacques Companeez, Herbert Juttke, Hans Jacoby and Michel Duran (Ciné-Alliance, 1938).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHORS
+
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHORS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
European Plan
Release Date:
10 May 1940
Production Date:
18 Dec 1939--mid Feb 1940
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
10 May 1940
LP9732
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
79-81
Length(in feet):
7,208
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5991
SYNOPSIS

In Europe, the charming Countess Tanya Vronsky provides the bait for jewel thieves Andre Desormeaux, the mastermind, and his light-fingered stooge, Polo. Their routine is soon spoiled in Nice, France, however, when the countess falls in love with one of their victims, Paul Vernay. After cheating Paul out of his money, the countess returns it to him and tells Polo and Desormeaux that she has decided to end her association with crime and marry Paul. Desormeaux tries to keep the countess on by reminding her that it was he who saved her from being just a third-rate ballet dancer, but she refuses to reconsider. Months later, Desormeaux and Polo find the countess in Paris and attempt to persuade her to return to the racket. Hoping to get Desormeaux and Polo out of her life once and for all, the countess pretends to agree to rejoin them, but immediately sets up her ex-compatriots to be caught in their next scheme. The countess' scheme fails, however, and the two come looking for her during a party at the Vernay mansion. Posing as guests, Desormeaux and Polo try to blackmail the countess, demanding 200,000 francs to keep her past dealings a secret from Paul. When Andre diverts the countess' attention away from Polo, Polo steals jewels from the guests and flees with Desormeaux. When the countess discovers the crime, she and Paul chase after them in their car. While in pursuit, the countess tells Paul about her past, and he forgives her. Meanwhile, Polo, who has had a change of heart, returns to the Vernays', unknown to Desormeaux, and returns the stolen jewels. ...

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In Europe, the charming Countess Tanya Vronsky provides the bait for jewel thieves Andre Desormeaux, the mastermind, and his light-fingered stooge, Polo. Their routine is soon spoiled in Nice, France, however, when the countess falls in love with one of their victims, Paul Vernay. After cheating Paul out of his money, the countess returns it to him and tells Polo and Desormeaux that she has decided to end her association with crime and marry Paul. Desormeaux tries to keep the countess on by reminding her that it was he who saved her from being just a third-rate ballet dancer, but she refuses to reconsider. Months later, Desormeaux and Polo find the countess in Paris and attempt to persuade her to return to the racket. Hoping to get Desormeaux and Polo out of her life once and for all, the countess pretends to agree to rejoin them, but immediately sets up her ex-compatriots to be caught in their next scheme. The countess' scheme fails, however, and the two come looking for her during a party at the Vernay mansion. Posing as guests, Desormeaux and Polo try to blackmail the countess, demanding 200,000 francs to keep her past dealings a secret from Paul. When Andre diverts the countess' attention away from Polo, Polo steals jewels from the guests and flees with Desormeaux. When the countess discovers the crime, she and Paul chase after them in their car. While in pursuit, the countess tells Paul about her past, and he forgives her. Meanwhile, Polo, who has had a change of heart, returns to the Vernays', unknown to Desormeaux, and returns the stolen jewels. When the Vernays return, they show their genuine appreciation for Polo's good deed and forgive him. The countess then performs the ballet "Swan Lake" for the guests, and Polo returns to meet Desormeaux aboard the ship on which they will be sailing to America. As the ship is about to leave port, Polo shows up with a suitcase supposedly filled with the stolen jewels, but instead of handing it over to Desormeaux, he drops it in the ocean and pretends that it was an accident.

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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.