The Guardsman (1931)

81 or 83 mins | Comedy-drama | 7 November 1931

Director:

Sidney Franklin

Writer:

Ernest Vajda

Cinematographer:

Norbert Brodine

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Following its first presentation in Budapest in 1911, Ferenc Molnar's play was retitled Playing with Fire for its London run, and Where Ignorance Is Bliss for its New York run in 1913. In 1924, the play received a new adaptation by Philip Moeller and opened in New York as The Guardsman with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, who were husband and wife, starring. Aside from cameo appearances in Stage Door Canteen in 1943, this film, in which they reprised their stage roles, was the first and only picture they made. An onscreen acknowledgment thanks the Theatre Guild, Inc. for allowing the studio to picturize its "greatest stage success." Lunt and Fontanne received Academy Award nominations for their performances in the film. Modern sources note that producer Irving Thalberg intended to add the Lunts to a growing list of former Broadway players that the studio had been turning into screen stars. The Lunts, however, were not interested in doing any more films after The Guardsman , and the next film that Thalberg had set for them, Reunion in Vienna (see below), was turned over to John Barrymore and Diana Wynyard. Maxwell Anderson, who wrote the play Elizabeth the Queen , and who had once been under contract at M-G-M, agreed to let Thalberg use the final moments of his play for the opening sequence of the film. Although modern sources list actress Ann Dvorak in the cast as "The Fan," her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. M-G-M's filmed a musical version of The Guardsman in 1941, ... More Less

Following its first presentation in Budapest in 1911, Ferenc Molnar's play was retitled Playing with Fire for its London run, and Where Ignorance Is Bliss for its New York run in 1913. In 1924, the play received a new adaptation by Philip Moeller and opened in New York as The Guardsman with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, who were husband and wife, starring. Aside from cameo appearances in Stage Door Canteen in 1943, this film, in which they reprised their stage roles, was the first and only picture they made. An onscreen acknowledgment thanks the Theatre Guild, Inc. for allowing the studio to picturize its "greatest stage success." Lunt and Fontanne received Academy Award nominations for their performances in the film. Modern sources note that producer Irving Thalberg intended to add the Lunts to a growing list of former Broadway players that the studio had been turning into screen stars. The Lunts, however, were not interested in doing any more films after The Guardsman , and the next film that Thalberg had set for them, Reunion in Vienna (see below), was turned over to John Barrymore and Diana Wynyard. Maxwell Anderson, who wrote the play Elizabeth the Queen , and who had once been under contract at M-G-M, agreed to let Thalberg use the final moments of his play for the opening sequence of the film. Although modern sources list actress Ann Dvorak in the cast as "The Fan," her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. M-G-M's filmed a musical version of The Guardsman in 1941, entitled The Chocolate Soldier , which had no resemblance to the Oscar Straus musical of the same name. The 1941 film was directed by Roy Del Ruth and starred Nelson Eddy and Rise Stevens. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
13 Sep 31
p. 10.
HF
27 Jun 31
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 31
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 31
pp. 3-6.
Motion Picture Herald
8 Aug 31
p. 152.
New York Times
10 Sep 31
p. 22.
Variety
15 Sep 31
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
Rec dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Testör by Ferenc Molnár (Budapest, 1911).
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 November 1931
Production Date:
25 June--23 July 1931
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Copyright Date:
7 September 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2452
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
81 or 83
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Following their performance of Elizabeth the Queen at Vienna's Burg Theatre, the Actor and the Actress, who have been married for six months, take their bows while exchanging mild insults under their breath. The Actor's jabs soon give way to jealous accusations of unfaithfulness, however, when he senses that his wife has already grown tired of him, her seventh husband, and is looking for her eighth. The Actor tells his friend, the critic Bernhardt, that he believes that her playing Chopin on the piano is a sign that she has been unfaithful to him. Knowing that his wife is fond of men in uniform, the Actor decides to disguise himself as a uniformed Russian guardsman and try to woo her in order to prove to himself that she can be easily seduced by such a man. After sending her flowers, the Actor waits for his wife's reaction, and then tries to get her to admit that she is courting a secret lover. Apparently fooled by her husband's disguise, the Actress tosses him a note accepting his request for a meeting. Later, in order to induce his wife's secret rendezvous with the Russian prince, the Actor tells her that he has been called away to play in Hamlet and will return the following day. That evening, after the Actor bids her farewell, the Actress immediately begins dressing to meet her paramour. When the Actor returns, disguised as the Soviet prince, he engages in a conversation with the Actress about her husband. The Actress tells the Actor that her husband is intelligent and handsome, and ... +


Following their performance of Elizabeth the Queen at Vienna's Burg Theatre, the Actor and the Actress, who have been married for six months, take their bows while exchanging mild insults under their breath. The Actor's jabs soon give way to jealous accusations of unfaithfulness, however, when he senses that his wife has already grown tired of him, her seventh husband, and is looking for her eighth. The Actor tells his friend, the critic Bernhardt, that he believes that her playing Chopin on the piano is a sign that she has been unfaithful to him. Knowing that his wife is fond of men in uniform, the Actor decides to disguise himself as a uniformed Russian guardsman and try to woo her in order to prove to himself that she can be easily seduced by such a man. After sending her flowers, the Actor waits for his wife's reaction, and then tries to get her to admit that she is courting a secret lover. Apparently fooled by her husband's disguise, the Actress tosses him a note accepting his request for a meeting. Later, in order to induce his wife's secret rendezvous with the Russian prince, the Actor tells her that he has been called away to play in Hamlet and will return the following day. That evening, after the Actor bids her farewell, the Actress immediately begins dressing to meet her paramour. When the Actor returns, disguised as the Soviet prince, he engages in a conversation with the Actress about her husband. The Actress tells the Actor that her husband is intelligent and handsome, and after she informs him that he has left her alone until the next day, she asks him to stay. Upset, the Actor begins to act in a brutish manner, until she calls out for her maid. The Actor is overjoyed by her resistance and her assurance that she loves her husband, but before she sends him away, she tells him to meet her at the opera that night. At the opera, the Actor, again in disguise, joins the Actress in her box, but she berates him for embarrassing her. Following the opera, the Actor escorts her home, where she kisses him but tells him that she does not wish to see him again. He rejoices over his apparent victory in determining his wife's faithfulness, but his elation is soon ended when she throws down the keys to her room. Though the Actor accepts her invitation, she spurns him once again and tells him that her jealous husband will soon be home. After leaving the apartment, the Actor removes his disguise, returns as her husband and, while reapplying his disguise in the next room, tells his wife of his supposed trip. When he re-emerges as the Russian guardsman, the Actor threatens his wife with a knife, but she laughs and tells him that she knew who he was from the first moment she saw him in his disguise. The Actress' meaningful nod and smile to Bernhardt, however, betrays the truth. +

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

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