What Price Hollywood? (1932)

78 or 87-88 mins | Drama | 24 June 1932

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Truth About Hollywood , Hollywood Madness and Hollywood Merry-Go-Round . Pre-production articles in FD announced William Seiter as the film's director and Joel McCrea as Constance Bennett's co-star. Although filming had already begun in mid-Apr 1932, Bruce Cabot was announced as Bennett's co-star in an early May FD news item. Robert Presnell was announced as the continuity writer in a FD pre-production news item. According to SAB records, after Adela Rogers St. John was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story, the Writers Branch of the Academy investigated the film's writing credits and concluded that both St. John and Jane Murfin should have received screen credit for the original story and that Presnell should have received an "adapted by" credit. In spite of the Academy's findings, only St. John was given a nomination. (Frances Marion won the award for The Champ .) RKO borrowed George Cukor from Paramount for the production. FD news items add the following actors to the cast: Jack Trainor, Gordon DeMaine , Carol Wines, Rex Lindsey, Veda Buckland and Eric Wilton. Their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Some exterior scenes for the film were shot at the First United Methodist Church of Hollywood and at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The film's budget was $411,676, according to studio records. A HR news item states that a bedroom scene between Bennett and Neil Hamilton's characters was censored in Britain. The filming technique that Cukor used in "Max's" suicide scene included unusual ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Truth About Hollywood , Hollywood Madness and Hollywood Merry-Go-Round . Pre-production articles in FD announced William Seiter as the film's director and Joel McCrea as Constance Bennett's co-star. Although filming had already begun in mid-Apr 1932, Bruce Cabot was announced as Bennett's co-star in an early May FD news item. Robert Presnell was announced as the continuity writer in a FD pre-production news item. According to SAB records, after Adela Rogers St. John was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story, the Writers Branch of the Academy investigated the film's writing credits and concluded that both St. John and Jane Murfin should have received screen credit for the original story and that Presnell should have received an "adapted by" credit. In spite of the Academy's findings, only St. John was given a nomination. (Frances Marion won the award for The Champ .) RKO borrowed George Cukor from Paramount for the production. FD news items add the following actors to the cast: Jack Trainor, Gordon DeMaine , Carol Wines, Rex Lindsey, Veda Buckland and Eric Wilton. Their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Some exterior scenes for the film were shot at the First United Methodist Church of Hollywood and at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The film's budget was $411,676, according to studio records. A HR news item states that a bedroom scene between Bennett and Neil Hamilton's characters was censored in Britain. The filming technique that Cukor used in "Max's" suicide scene included unusual quick shot editing, exaggerated sound effects and a slow motion shot of "Max" falling to the floor.
       After David O. Selznick, who left RKO in early 1933, produced A Star Is Born in 1937 for United Artists, RKO's legal department undertook a comparative point-by-point analysis of the story lines of that film and What Price Hollywood? and, based on the perceived similarities, recommended that a plagiarism suit be filed against Selznick. The disposition of the recommendation has not been ascertained. In 1954, Cukor directed the remake of A Star Is Born . (For more information, see above listing for A Star Is Born .) According to modern sources, the Sherman character was modelled after Sherman himself, a known alcoholic, and silent film director Marshall Neilan, who also suffered from alcoholism. At the time of this production, Sherman was John Barrymore's brother-in-law and, according to modern sources, Barrymore also provided inspiration for the Sherman role. Modern sources claim that Selznick originally conceived of the "Mary Evans" role as a vehicle for Clara Bow. Modern sources add the following actors to the cast: Bryant Washburn ( Washed-up star ), Heinie Conklin ( Car owner ) and Eddie Dunn ( Doorman at Grauman's Chinese Theater ). Gordon DeMaine is identified by modern sources as "The Yes Man." In addition, modern sources list Allen Rivkin as a screenwriter. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
13 Mar 32
p. 4.
Film Daily
7 Apr 32
p. 6.
Film Daily
13 Apr 32
p. 6.
Film Daily
14 Apr 32
p. 7.
Film Daily
24 Apr 32
p. 4.
Film Daily
1 May 32
p. 4.
Film Daily
2 May 32
p. 6.
Film Daily
4 May 32
p. 8.
Film Daily
15 May 32
p. 4.
Film Daily
18 May 32
p. 8.
Film Daily
29 May 32
p. 4.
Film Daily
22 Jun 32
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 32
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 32
p. 7.
International Photographer
1 Jul 32
p. 28.
Motion Picture Herald
18 Jun 32
p. 35.
New York Times
16 Jul 32
p. 5.
Variety
19 Jul 32
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Pre-prod ed
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr clerk
Stenographer
Still photog
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Hollywood Merry-Go-Round
The Truth About Hollywood
Hollywood Madness
Release Date:
24 June 1932
Production Date:
4 April--13 May 1932
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Pathé Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
24 June 1932
Copyright Number:
LP3114
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor Recording System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
78 or 87-88
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

While working at Hollywood's Brown Derby, Mary Evans, a pretty, sassy waitress, amuses alcoholic film director Maximillan "Max" Carey with her sharp wit and clever observations. Charmed by Mary, Carey invites her to the premiere of his latest film, which is being presented at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and then spends the night drinking and carousing with her. The next morning, the ambitious Mary cajoles Max into taking her to the set of his latest production, and she eventually convinces him to give her a walk-on part in the film. Untrained as an actor, Mary performs her role terribly and is fired from the production. Determined to regain her part, Mary practices at home that night until she finds the proper rhythm and style for her delivery. The next day, she stuns Julius Saxe, the film's producer, with her performance and is signed to a seven-year studio contract. While visiting the exclusive Santa Barbara Polo Field, Mary, now a polished movie star, meets Lonny Borden, an Eastern-bred millionaire. After a fiery courtship, Mary and Lonny marry in an opulent, much publicized ceremony, but differences in their social backgrounds as well as the pressures of Mary's Hollywood career soon take their toll on the marriage. At the same time, Carey, lonely for Mary's companionship, increases his drinking until he is forced out of motion pictures. When a distraught Carey shows up drunk in Mary's bedroom one night, Lonny misunderstands his intentions and, in a jealous rage, files for divorce. Now alone, Mary gives birth to Lonny's son but refuses to allow Lonny to see the baby. After Mary bails an intoxicated Carey out ... +


While working at Hollywood's Brown Derby, Mary Evans, a pretty, sassy waitress, amuses alcoholic film director Maximillan "Max" Carey with her sharp wit and clever observations. Charmed by Mary, Carey invites her to the premiere of his latest film, which is being presented at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and then spends the night drinking and carousing with her. The next morning, the ambitious Mary cajoles Max into taking her to the set of his latest production, and she eventually convinces him to give her a walk-on part in the film. Untrained as an actor, Mary performs her role terribly and is fired from the production. Determined to regain her part, Mary practices at home that night until she finds the proper rhythm and style for her delivery. The next day, she stuns Julius Saxe, the film's producer, with her performance and is signed to a seven-year studio contract. While visiting the exclusive Santa Barbara Polo Field, Mary, now a polished movie star, meets Lonny Borden, an Eastern-bred millionaire. After a fiery courtship, Mary and Lonny marry in an opulent, much publicized ceremony, but differences in their social backgrounds as well as the pressures of Mary's Hollywood career soon take their toll on the marriage. At the same time, Carey, lonely for Mary's companionship, increases his drinking until he is forced out of motion pictures. When a distraught Carey shows up drunk in Mary's bedroom one night, Lonny misunderstands his intentions and, in a jealous rage, files for divorce. Now alone, Mary gives birth to Lonny's son but refuses to allow Lonny to see the baby. After Mary bails an intoxicated Carey out of jail, Carey commits suicide in Mary's bedroom. Her career ruined by the subsequent scandal, Mary abandons Hollywood and moves to France. Eventually a repentant Lonny shows up in France and, after informing her that Saxe wants her to star in his next movie, is reunited with Mary and their son. +

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.