The Goldwyn Follies (1938)

109 or 115 mins | Musical comedy | 4 February 1938

Director:

George Marshall

Writer:

Ben Hecht

Producer:

Samuel Goldwyn

Cinematographer:

Gregg Toland

Editor:

Sherman Todd

Production Company:

Samuel Goldwyn, Inc.
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HISTORY

In the opening cast credits, the names and pictures of the principal actors are presented as covers of magazines. Some, such as Photoplay for Andre Leeds, were real, while others, such as The National Woodmen's Weekly for Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, were not. The Goldwyn Follies was the last film of George Gershwin, who died at the age of 38 on 11 Jul 1937 following an operation to remove a brain tumor. According to HR news items, his illness was at first perceived to be a nervous breakdown, for which he was hospitalized. After Gershwin's death, Vernon Duke co-wrote the song "Spring Again" with Gershwin's brother Ira, as well as the scores for the "Romeo and Juliet" and "Waternymph" ballets. According to Duke's autobiography, he also worked on the song "Love Is Here to Stay." Modern sources note that the song "Just Another Rhumba," written by the Gershwin brothers, was not included in the final picture, nor was "I'm Not Complaining," written by Ira Gerswhin and Duke.
       Producer Samuel Goldwyn announced plans for The Goldwyn Follies in a 5 Mar 1935 HR news item, in which it was stated that he intended to produce a version of the revue each year and would begin production on the first one that Sep. Modern sources note that Goldwyn had been considering the idea of a yearly revue as early as 1932. Among the many writers listed by contemporary sources as being engaged by Goldwyn to work on the script were: Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby (who were also hired in Jan 1937 to write ... More Less

In the opening cast credits, the names and pictures of the principal actors are presented as covers of magazines. Some, such as Photoplay for Andre Leeds, were real, while others, such as The National Woodmen's Weekly for Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, were not. The Goldwyn Follies was the last film of George Gershwin, who died at the age of 38 on 11 Jul 1937 following an operation to remove a brain tumor. According to HR news items, his illness was at first perceived to be a nervous breakdown, for which he was hospitalized. After Gershwin's death, Vernon Duke co-wrote the song "Spring Again" with Gershwin's brother Ira, as well as the scores for the "Romeo and Juliet" and "Waternymph" ballets. According to Duke's autobiography, he also worked on the song "Love Is Here to Stay." Modern sources note that the song "Just Another Rhumba," written by the Gershwin brothers, was not included in the final picture, nor was "I'm Not Complaining," written by Ira Gerswhin and Duke.
       Producer Samuel Goldwyn announced plans for The Goldwyn Follies in a 5 Mar 1935 HR news item, in which it was stated that he intended to produce a version of the revue each year and would begin production on the first one that Sep. Modern sources note that Goldwyn had been considering the idea of a yearly revue as early as 1932. Among the many writers listed by contemporary sources as being engaged by Goldwyn to work on the script were: Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby (who were also hired in Jan 1937 to write the picture's score), George Jessel, Harry Conn, Alan Campbell, Anita Loos, John Emerson, Alice Duer Miller and Howard J. Green. A 1 Dec 1936 HR news item stated that Goldwyn had purchased from Harry Selby a "story satirizing a vitriolic Broadway critic as basic idea" for the picture. A Life article noted that: "In his search for a formula, Samuel Goldwyn first paid three writers, including Dorothy Parker, $125,000. Then he tore up their script and hired Ben Hecht" (who received onscreen credit). The contribution of these writers to the finished film has not been confirmed. Modern sources note that Goldwyn first approached Irving Berlin about providing the film's score and asked Lillian Hellman to write the script. A 8 Apr 1936 HR news item reported that Goldwyn was negotiating with René Clair to direct the film. Later, Goldwyn signed Jason Leigh and then Archie Mayo to direct before finally borrowing George Marshall from Twentieth Century-Fox. A 10 Sep 1937 HR news item noted that Garson Kanin and Henry C. Potter were working "with the players in preparation for shooting," while Marshall was directing the actual filming. Contemporary news items also stated that first Bobby Connolly and then Sammy Lee were assigned to aid George Balanchine, who brought with him twenty-five dancers from The American Ballet of the Metropolitan Opera, with the dance direction. Connolly's and Lee's contribution to the completed picture is doubtful, however. According to a HR news item, Goldwyn hired Sam Marx in Dec 1936 to supervise the production, but his participation in the completed picture has not been confirmed.
       According to HR news items, Goldwyn hoped to feature either William Powell or Jack Benny in a top role, and Virginia Verrill was to be "teamed with Adolphe Menjou in the top spots" of the picture. Among those listed by contemporary sources as being included in the cast, but whose participation in the completed film has not been confirmed, are: singer Charles Cummings, dance team Olga Phillips and John Kohl, The Raymond Scott Quintet, dance team Raul and Eva Reyes, Madeline Martin, Rosemary Richards, Lois Warde, Dorothy Belle Dugan, Margaret Brullow, Lucy Lane Woodworth, Beatrice Coleman, Elaine Shepherd, Eveline Bankston and tap dancers Kathryn Barnes, Jerry Jarrette, Vivian Cole, Ruth Riley, Virginia Davis, Dona Dax, Laura Lane, Dorothy Ambrey, Louise Douse, Lynn Lewis, Iris Meyers and Maria Harold.
       According to HR news items, the picture was shot for one week on location at Lake Arrowhead, CA, and a "special studio entrance [was] built inside the [United Artists] lot for exclusive use" in the film. The entrance to United Artists had already been used in the picture Stand-in (see below), and so Goldwyn built a new one rather than use a set that had appeared in someone else's film. While contemporary sources claim that the picture cost at least $2,000,000 to produce, modern sources assert that $1,800,000 was spent on the film, which lost $727,500 at the box office.
       The Goldwyn Follies marked the screen debuts of ballerina Vera Zorina, comedian Bobby Clark, and Metropolitan Opera singers Helen Jepson and Charles Kullmann. It also marked the feature film debut of ventriloquist-comedian Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy and the American film debut of choreographer George Balanchine. Zorina and Balanchine were married on 24 Dec 1938. According to the MPH review, Goldwyn had announced that the film would be "the first of a series of three-hour pictures which...would help put an end to double features." The Goldwyn Follies received Academy Award nominations for Best Interior Decoration and Best Score.
       Modern sources include ballerinas Gisella Caccialanza and Daphne Vane in the cast and note that Balanchine originally wanted to feature a ballet of Gershwin's "An American in Paris" in this picture. After he had choreographed and rehearsed the piece for three weeks, Balanchine was told by Goldwyn that it could not be included because "the miners in Harrisburg wouldn't understand it." The ballet was later included in the Oscar-winning 1951 M-G-M musical, An American in Paris , choreographed by Gene Kelly. A modern source asserts that Hecht based "Oliver Merlin's" unrequited love for "Hazel Dawes" upon Goldwyn's alleged infatuation with Zorina. Modern sources credit Fred Kohlmar as Goldwyn's production assistant. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Feb 1938.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jan 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Jan 38
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 35
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 36
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 36
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 36
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 36
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Feb 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 37
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 37
pp. 1-3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 37
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 37
p. 3, 17, 19
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 37
p. 27.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 37
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 37
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 37
p. 1, 3
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 38
p. 1, 5-32.
Life
7 Feb 38
pp. 20-23.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jul 1936.
---
Motion Picture Daily
15 Jul 37
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
22 May 37
p. 50.
Motion Picture Herald
31 Jul 37
p. 57.
Motion Picture Herald
13 Nov 37
pp. 14-15.
Motion Picture Herald
29 Jan 38
p. 48.
New York Times
12 Sep 1937.
---
New York Times
21 Feb 38
p. 15.
Variety
14 Jul 1937.
---
Variety
2 Feb 38
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story and scr
Ritz Brothers specialties and songs
Ritz Brothers specialties and songs
Addl comedy seq
Addl comedy seq
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus for ballets and addl songs by
Mus recorder
SOUND
DANCE
Ballets conceived and staged by
Asst to Balanchine
MAKEUP
Col Harmony make-up ensembles by
PRODUCTION MISC
Still photog
COLOR PERSONNEL
Des in col by
Photog adv
Col art dir
SOURCES
SONGS
"Love Is Here to Stay," "Love Walked In," "I Was Doing All Right" and "I Love to Rhyme," music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gerswhin
"Spring Again," music by Vernon Duke, lyrics by Ira Gershwin
"Here Pussy, Pussy," music and lyrics by Sid Kuller and Ray Golden
+
SONGS
"Love Is Here to Stay," "Love Walked In," "I Was Doing All Right" and "I Love to Rhyme," music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gerswhin
"Spring Again," music by Vernon Duke, lyrics by Ira Gershwin
"Here Pussy, Pussy," music and lyrics by Sid Kuller and Ray Golden
selections from the opera La Traviata , music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 February 1938
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Miami: 28 January 1938
Production Date:
24 August--mid November 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel Goldwyn
Copyright Date:
23 February 1938
Copyright Number:
LP7844
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
109 or 115
Length(in feet):
10,953
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
3926
SYNOPSIS

Motion picture producer Oliver Merlin is dismayed when his latest film starring temperamental Russian dancer Olga Samara is poorly received. The theater manager tells him that the film, like Oliver's other movies, lacks "the human touch." Later, Oliver and Olga are on location working on their next project, Forgotten Dance , when Oliver overhears two young women, Hazel Dawes and her friend Ada, criticizing the oversophistication of the love scene as it is being shot. Oliver follows them to a soda shop, where he hires Hazel as a consultant to give Forgotten Dance a touch of common sense and humanity. Despite her initial bewilderment, Hazel goes with Oliver to Hollywood, where he introduces her to her new roommate, actress Glory Wood. With the exception of Glory, Oliver insists that Hazel avoid all actors and actresses so that she will keep her fresh outlook on the film's story. He even hides her in his car when he takes her to the studio, but she nonetheless meets the Ritz Brothers, a trio of animal trainers who are trying to avail Oliver of their services. Oliver orders the brothers off the lot, after which he and Hazel watch the rehearsal of a ballet and jazz interpretation of Romeo and Juliet . Hazel approves of the sequence, although she says that it must have a happy ending. Later, Oliver halts production while searching for an actor to play the simple, honest hero that Hazel says the film needs. Oliver and his casting director, A. Basil Crane, Jr., interview tenor after ... +


Motion picture producer Oliver Merlin is dismayed when his latest film starring temperamental Russian dancer Olga Samara is poorly received. The theater manager tells him that the film, like Oliver's other movies, lacks "the human touch." Later, Oliver and Olga are on location working on their next project, Forgotten Dance , when Oliver overhears two young women, Hazel Dawes and her friend Ada, criticizing the oversophistication of the love scene as it is being shot. Oliver follows them to a soda shop, where he hires Hazel as a consultant to give Forgotten Dance a touch of common sense and humanity. Despite her initial bewilderment, Hazel goes with Oliver to Hollywood, where he introduces her to her new roommate, actress Glory Wood. With the exception of Glory, Oliver insists that Hazel avoid all actors and actresses so that she will keep her fresh outlook on the film's story. He even hides her in his car when he takes her to the studio, but she nonetheless meets the Ritz Brothers, a trio of animal trainers who are trying to avail Oliver of their services. Oliver orders the brothers off the lot, after which he and Hazel watch the rehearsal of a ballet and jazz interpretation of Romeo and Juliet . Hazel approves of the sequence, although she says that it must have a happy ending. Later, Oliver halts production while searching for an actor to play the simple, honest hero that Hazel says the film needs. Oliver and his casting director, A. Basil Crane, Jr., interview tenor after tenor, but can find no one suitable. One evening, Hazel and Glory go to a hamburger stand, where they are delighted to discover that the cook, Danny Beecher, is the singer Oliver needs. Glory arranges for Danny to appear on Crane's radio show, and Hazel gets Oliver to listen to him. Oliver agrees to test Danny for the part, and soon Danny is playing the romantic lead opposite Olga. Danny and Hazel fall in love, although Danny is mystified by Hazel's reluctance to visit him on the set. Hazel has not told Oliver about her relationship with Danny, and Oliver, who has fallen in love with Hazel, believes that she returns his affections. Oliver plans a big party, at which he will announce his engagement to Hazel, while Hazel finally confesses to Danny that she works for Oliver. Danny mistakenly assumes that there is something illicit in her relationship with the producer, and storms off. Oliver then tells Hazel that he is announcing their engagement that night, and when she states that she loves Danny, he threatens to cut Danny out of the picture if she does not marry him. Hazel reluctantly acquiesces and attends the party. Danny also attends and, after giving Oliver a pair of scissors with which to cut him out of the film, asks Hazel to go away with him. An overjoyed Hazel agrees, after which Oliver, who realizes that Hazel and Danny belong together, announces to his guests that he is signing Danny to a five-year contract. Hazel gratefully tells Oliver that he has learned to act with humanity, and she then sings with Danny. +

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

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