Ah, Wilderness (1935)

93, 98 or 101 mins | Comedy-drama | 29 November 1935

Director:

Clarence Brown

Producer:

Hunt Stromberg

Cinematographer:

Clyde De Vinna

Editor:

Frank E. Hull

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The title of the play on which this film is based was derived from a line in the poem "The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám" by Omar Khayyám. A DV news item notes that the world premiere of the film took place on 6 Dec 1935, which makes it unlikely that the release date of 29 Nov 1935 listed in MPH is correct. Although a 12 Jan 1935 HR news item announced that production on the film was scheduled to start at the end of that month, for reasons unknown, the production did not begin until Aug 1935. Jan 1935 HR news items also noted that actor Trent Durkin was set for an "important juvenille role," and that William Henry was cast, however, their participation the released film has not been determined. Later HR pre-production news items noted that M-G-M asked J. C. Nugent to play "Nat Miller." Although HR production charts list actors Chris Schoenberg and Frank McGlynn in the cast, and although a news item notes that former child players (Baby) Peggy Montgomery, Mickey Bennett, Dick Winslow, Nancy Brice and Muriel McCormick were to be in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. As early as Oct 1934, HR announced that Will Rogers, who played "Nat Miller" in the 1933 San Francisco and Hollywood stage productions of O'Neill's play, was set to reprise his role for the screen. According to a 6 Aug DV news item, however, negotiations for Will Rogers to star in the film "went cold," and resulted in ... More Less

The title of the play on which this film is based was derived from a line in the poem "The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám" by Omar Khayyám. A DV news item notes that the world premiere of the film took place on 6 Dec 1935, which makes it unlikely that the release date of 29 Nov 1935 listed in MPH is correct. Although a 12 Jan 1935 HR news item announced that production on the film was scheduled to start at the end of that month, for reasons unknown, the production did not begin until Aug 1935. Jan 1935 HR news items also noted that actor Trent Durkin was set for an "important juvenille role," and that William Henry was cast, however, their participation the released film has not been determined. Later HR pre-production news items noted that M-G-M asked J. C. Nugent to play "Nat Miller." Although HR production charts list actors Chris Schoenberg and Frank McGlynn in the cast, and although a news item notes that former child players (Baby) Peggy Montgomery, Mickey Bennett, Dick Winslow, Nancy Brice and Muriel McCormick were to be in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. As early as Oct 1934, HR announced that Will Rogers, who played "Nat Miller" in the 1933 San Francisco and Hollywood stage productions of O'Neill's play, was set to reprise his role for the screen. According to a 6 Aug DV news item, however, negotiations for Will Rogers to star in the film "went cold," and resulted in the assignment of Lionel Barrymore to the part. Modern sources erroneously state that Rogers' death in a plane crash necessitated his replacement. According to NYT , Rogers asked Winfield Sheehan , the production head of Fox, which was to loan Rogers to M-G-M, to get him out of the picture. Stromberg apparently was so set on Rogers that he even suggested the film be made on the Fox lot. A biography on Rogers notes that, contrary to an 8 Aug 1935 M-G-M Studio News article announcement that Rogers and the rest of the Ah, Wilderness cast were about to depart for Massachusetts to begin filming, Rogers had no intention of participating in the film. The biography offers as evidence a picture of Rogers carrying the dateline Juneau, 8 Aug 1935.
       Some scenes were filmed on location in Grafton, MA, and in the nearby towns of Clinton, MA, which was director Clarence Brown's hometown, and Worcester, MA, where the world premiere was held. Over 200 locals were used as extras. Ah, Wilderness! was remade as a musical by M-G-M in 1948, entitled Summer Holiday , which was directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starred Mickey Rooney and Walter Huston. This was followed by a number of television broadcasts of the play, including: a Celanese Theatre production, televised on ABC on 3 Oct 1951, which was directed by Alex Segal and starred Thomas Mitchell and Roddy McDowall; a Front Row Center production, televised on CBS on 5 Jun 1955, which was directed by Fletcher Markle and starred Leon Ames and Bobby Driscoll; and a Theatre in America production, televised on PBS on 13 Oct 1976, which was directed by Arvin Brown and starred William Swetland and Richard Backus. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Aug 35
p. 3.
Daily Variety
8 Aug 35
p. 7.
Daily Variety
11 Nov 35
p. 3.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 35
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Nov 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 34
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13-Dec-34
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 35
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 35
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 35
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 35
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 35
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 36
pp. 5-12.
Motion Picture Daily
12 Nov 35
p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald
26 Oct 35
p. 57.
Motion Picture Herald
23 Nov 35
p. 70.
New York Times
16-Dec-34
---
New York Times
25 Dec 35
p. 30.
Variety
11-Dec-35
---
Variety
1 Jan 36
p. 44.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O'Neill, as produced by the Theatre Guild, Inc. (New York, 2 Oct 1933).
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 November 1935
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Worcester, MA: 6 December 1935
Production Date:
mid August--30 October 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
25 November 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5976
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
93, 98 or 101
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
1767
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In a small New England town in 1906, high school senior and idealist Richard Miller believes that he was born before his time. Arthur, his older brother, attends Yale, while Mildred and Tommy, his younger siblings, live at home. Richard's father Nat edits the town newspaper and is indifferent to his son's interest in the literature of Omar Khayyám and other writers, that is, until his mother Essie decides that the books are "socialistic" and forces her husband to remove them. Despite the ban, Richard plans to use quotations from the books in a speech he has been asked to give at his commencement ceremony. Nat's brother Sid, a womanizer with a drinking problem, tries to woo Essie's spinster sister Lily, who lives with the Millers, but she rejects his numerous offers of marriage. At the commencement ceremony, Richard begins to read his speech, but when Nat notices that he is about to express anti- capitalist sentiments, he interrupts the oration and prevents the boy from continuing. Nat, realizing that Sid is in desperate need of a job and reformation, finds him work in a nearby town, but when he returns for a visit on the Fourth of July, Sid admits that he lost the job. Richard writes his sweetheart Muriel love letters, which contain quotations from Swinburne, but is forced to stop when Muriel's father intercepts them and threatens Nat with the removal of his advertisements from his newspaper. Muriel's father forbids her from seeing Richard again and forces her to write a letter in which she spurns his love. Heartbroken, Richard mopes all day long. That night, he and a ... +


In a small New England town in 1906, high school senior and idealist Richard Miller believes that he was born before his time. Arthur, his older brother, attends Yale, while Mildred and Tommy, his younger siblings, live at home. Richard's father Nat edits the town newspaper and is indifferent to his son's interest in the literature of Omar Khayyám and other writers, that is, until his mother Essie decides that the books are "socialistic" and forces her husband to remove them. Despite the ban, Richard plans to use quotations from the books in a speech he has been asked to give at his commencement ceremony. Nat's brother Sid, a womanizer with a drinking problem, tries to woo Essie's spinster sister Lily, who lives with the Millers, but she rejects his numerous offers of marriage. At the commencement ceremony, Richard begins to read his speech, but when Nat notices that he is about to express anti- capitalist sentiments, he interrupts the oration and prevents the boy from continuing. Nat, realizing that Sid is in desperate need of a job and reformation, finds him work in a nearby town, but when he returns for a visit on the Fourth of July, Sid admits that he lost the job. Richard writes his sweetheart Muriel love letters, which contain quotations from Swinburne, but is forced to stop when Muriel's father intercepts them and threatens Nat with the removal of his advertisements from his newspaper. Muriel's father forbids her from seeing Richard again and forces her to write a letter in which she spurns his love. Heartbroken, Richard mopes all day long. That night, he and a friend go to the Pleasant Beach House, a drinking establishment of ill-repute, where Richard drinks and smokes and meets Belle, a vamp who plies him with liquor and then takes five dollars from him. When the bartender is tipped off about Richard's age, he ejects him. Meanwhile, Richard's family anguishes over Richard's lateness, and just as Nat and Arthur leave to search for him, the boy returns home. Sid, being a well-seasoned imbiber himself, offers to take care of the drunken Richard and nurses him back to sobriety. The next day, Belle, seeking revenge for the events of the night before, delivers a note to Nat's office, claiming that the Pleasant Saloon sold liquor to a minor. Nat glimpses the "fallen woman" on her way out and questions his son's judgment of character. Muriel, who has been punished for her correspondence with Richard, tries to explain her situation to her estranged sweetheart, but Richard, still angry with her, tells her about a wild party he went to the night before, thus sending her away in tears. Richard runs after Muriel, and following his apology, the two kiss for the first time. Prompted by Richard's experience with Belle, Nat has a talk with him about women, warning him not to fall for "whited sepulchres." Richard promises, thus restoring Nat's faith in his son's morals. All ends happily as Lily and Sid make up, Mildred finds a boyfriend, and Nat and Essie acknowledge that they are surrounded by love. +

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

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