September 16, 2015

#LetsMovie - TCM Discoveries Blogathon - In Name Only (1939)

Turner Classic Movies is going after younger viewers who like to socialize around movies with a new branding campaign — above the tagline "Let’s Movie" — the first such outreach in about a decade for the Turner Broadcasting System-owned channel.

New on-air and online spots show groups gathering to watch, for example, The Wizard of Oz projected onto the side of a Kansas barn, John Wayne in The Searchers played off a butte in Monument Valley and Ben-Hur on the outside walls of the Colosseum in Rome.

"We want to appeal to broader movie lovers, not just classic movie lovers," Jennifer Dorian, TCM's general manager, told The Wire.

The message: "These iconic films should be enjoyed by everyone and they’re timeless, so if you love movies, check them out. It's about getting people together and everybody making an event out of seeing an iconic film."

Here's where the clever spots will be seen, starting Sept. 1: on TCM’s air; on; cross-promoted on; on TBS, TNT and CNN Airport Network and on electronic billboards in New York and Atlanta and on-screen ads in some 750 movie theaters across the country.

There also will be a social-media campaign — #LetsMovie — building toward a "Let's Movie" holiday on September 19, 2015, when TCM will encourage fans to watch films with family and friends and share their experiences socially.

Dorian also hopes to stage live events in iconic locations, possibly including a Rocky screening on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

"We feel like we’re the movie place, so let's movie," she said.

The Nitrate Diva says:
On September 19, TCM is encouraging everyone to take a Let's Movie Holiday to share the joy of cinema with friends and family. Why shouldn't the blogosphere do the same? I hope you'll join me in celebrating the movies you've found (and perhaps the friends you've made) through TCM.
I'm proud to take part in The Nitrate Diva's TCM Discoveries Blogathon. I met many new people this summer through the free course TCM Presents Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir, #NoirSummer on Twitter and the Summer of Darkness films. I was also introduced to #TCMParty, where you can watch and tweet along to TCM flicks.

As much as I loved being introduced to many new films noir this summer, my favorite TCM discovery so far has been the work of Kay Francis. She was the Queen of Warner Brothers before Bette Davis.

Kay Francis started her career on Broadway and signed with Paramount in the late 1920s. She frequently costarred with William Powell, and appeared in as many as six to eight movies a year, making a total of 21 films between 1929 and 1931. She became good friends with fellow Paramount star and then-wife of Powell, Carole Lombard.

In 1932, Warner Brothers persuaded Kay Francis to join the ranks of Warners stars. From 1932 through 1936, Francis was the queen of the Warners lot and increasingly her films were developed as star vehicles. By the mid-thirties, Francis was one of the highest-paid people in the United States.

She frequently played long-suffering heroines, displaying to good advantage lavish wardrobes. Too frequently, however, Francis' clotheshorse reputation led Warners to concentrate resources on lavish sets and costumes, designed to appeal to Depression-era female audiences and capitalize on her reputation as the epitome of chic, rather than on scripts.

Eventually, Francis herself became dissatisfied with these vehicles and began openly to feud with Warners, even threatening a lawsuit against them for inferior treatment. This in turn led to her demotion to programmers and, in the same year, to the termination of her contract.

The Independent Theatre Owners Association paid for an advertisement in the Hollywood Reporter in May 1938 that included Francis, along with Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Fred Astaire, Mae West, Katharine Hepburn and others, on a list of stars dubbed "box office poison." After her release from Warners, Francis was unable to secure another studio contract. Carole Lombard, one of the most popular stars of the late 1930s and early 1940s (and who had previously been a supporting player in Francis' 1931 film, Ladies' Man) tried to bolster Francis' career by insisting Francis be cast in In Name Only (1939). In this film, Francis had a supporting role to Lombard and Cary Grant, but wisely recognized that the film offered her an opportunity to engage in some serious acting.

Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, Kay Francis in In Name Only (1939)

In Name Only is a 1939 romantic film starring Cary Grant, Carole Lombard and Kay Francis. It was based on the 1935 novel Memory of Love by Bessie Breuer. The fictional town it is based in, Bridgefield, Connecticut, is based on the town of Ridgefield, Connecticut. According to Robert Osborne, the film was intended to reteam Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. However, the disastrous reception of Bringing Up Baby led to Hepburn being considered "box office poison" and Lombard being cast instead.

Directed by John Cromwell
Produced by George Haight
Screenplay by Richard Sherman
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography by J. Roy Hunt
Edited by William Hamilton
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date: August 18, 1939
Running time: 94 minutes
Budget: $722,000
Box office: $1,321,000

Carole Lombard as Julie Eden
Cary Grant as Alec Walker
Kay Francis as Maida Walker
Charles Coburn as Richard Walker
Helen Vinson as Suzanne Ducross, Maida's "best" friend, who makes a play for Alec herself
Katherine Alexander as Laura Morton, Julie's sister, embittered against men by her own unhappy experience
Jonathan Hale as Dr. Ned Gateson, a friend of the Walker family
Nella Walker as Grace Walker
Alan Baxter as Charley
Maurice Moscovitch as Dr. Muller
Peggy Ann Garner as Ellen Eden, Julie's daughter
Charles Coleman as Archie Duross

The New York Times Film Review - August 4, 1939
Love and the eternal triangle are subjects toward which the movies have never been particularly averse, but upon which they have generally discoursed with prudent caution and romantic bubble-blowing. For this reason — this and the fact that love is more than just a smoke raised by the fume of a scriptwriter's sighs — it is particularly gratifying to encounter a film which does unblushingly tackle the hackneyed theme of husband, wife and other woman, which acknowledges by tactful implication a few of the facts of life, which penetrates with poignant directness into the reality of emotional torment and which permits the "other woman" a contrived but satisfactory victory. Such is the especial grace of In Name Only, the new Cary Grant-Carole Lombard love story, now at the Music Hall.

No one can expect a film to probe much deeper than that into the chemistry of love or into the social conventions which frequently cause its embarrassment, what with the Hays Code and such. So an occasional cliché or recourse to symbolic maneuvering can readily be forgiven. There is enough of the reticence, the slightly skeptical exaltation and the frightening, lonely despair which are usually experienced by mature lovers in this picture to give it superior quality. And it is magnificently done.

The story, as remarked, is no bombshell. Alec Walker, played by Mr. Grant, is a Connecticut squire married to a heartless wife, who hooked him for his money and position. When he meets and falls in love with Julie Eden (Miss Lombard), a widowed artist, he asks his wife to divorce him and she agrees to go to Paris to do so. Confident of her word, Alec and Julie prepare for their life together. But the wife prolongs her stay in Paris, causing Julie understandable anguish, and finally returns home (on Christmas Eve), without a divorce and without any intention of getting one.

Further, this vicious wife threatens to sue Julie for alienation of affections and to drag her young daughter into court as a witness if Alec attempts to divorce her. So Alec and Julie agree to part and the situation is wholly intolerable — until a convenient illness and a sick-bed crisis permit a happy solution.

On the face of it, that sounds pretty bleak. But you don't let it prejudice you. The story, while obvious, is thoroughly convincing, thanks to the "natural" attack which John Cromwell has taken upon it and to some delightfully pleasing dialogue. Mr. Grant is in top form as the done-wrong-by husband who — unlike the husband in Bessie Bruer's original novel — is a thorough gentleman, a surpassing wit and a charming fellow withal. Miss Lombard plays her poignant role with all the fragile intensity and contained passion that have lifted her to dramatic eminence. Kay Francis, on the other side of the fence this time, is a model cat, suave, superior and relentless. And a generally excellent cast contribute in making this one of the most adult and enjoyable pictures of the season.

Variety Film Review - August 9, 1939
In Name Only will get maximum playing time and the best dating the country offers, being a late summer release that has all the elements of audience appeal, together with three star names in Carole Lombard, Cary Grant and Kay Francis as strong convincers.  Where played, it will carry the full burden of responsibility and shoulder it.

A novel by Bessie Breuer, Memory of Love, forms the basis for the wholly capable production turned out by George Haight from Richard Sherman's fine adaptation.  The story is a romantic drama of a familiar but highly poignant brand, relieved by smart comedy lines and touches.  It is sophisticated, adult material which has been handled in a very intelligent manner and, among its attributes, enjoys suspense up to the final footage.

Many happy elements combine to make this one of the best pictures of the year, not the least of these being Haight's superior production, the inspired direction of John Cromwell, Sherman's trenchant dialog and the performances of a skilled cast.  The meat of the love story, with its attendant drama and tension, its tenderer love passages and blasé qualities, has an important complement in the wholly natural but swank comedy touches, supplied both by dialog and action.

An even pace is set all the distance, with no particular hurry suggested, although there is much to do while the 94 minutes unreel. The ending, however, is more abrupt than is looked for, in view of the pace established by deliberately well-planned direction and script, with Cary Grant left on a hospital bed to recover, according to all expectations.

Story plays Grant in a stubborn vein against the knowledge that Miss Francis nabbed him as one does a mackerel, with the action at times appearing to make Grant somewhat unreasonable in his bitterness about the whole thing.  This reflects also in his attitude toward his parents.

The difficulty of breaking up the fortune-hunting marriage so that Grant and Miss Lombard may get hitched, carries the film through the majority of its running time. While intriguing the interest at every turn, maintaining a good grip on audience appreciation, the failure of a better showdown concerning the marriage or a divorce cannot be ignored. In the steering of the story, however, Cromwell has made every situation as believable as could be accomplished in order to sustain the dramatic undercurrent, strife and the beleaguered romance which has developed.  The strokes by which the decks are cleared for consummation of this romance are deft, careful, well-timed and highly effective for the purposes of the finish.

Grant and Miss Lombard emerge highly impressive.  Grant figures in some of the comedy relief but Miss Lombard is almost entirely on the romantic drama side, turning in a fine performance.

As the mercenary wife, Miss Francis does well, shading her role well. She does not photograph as well here, however; makeup, perhaps, somewhat a fault, unless the idea was to make her less glamorous than she has been in the past.

The supporting players are topped by Charles Coburn, as Grant's father; Helen Vinson, doing a vicious society gossiper, and Katharine Alexander, as Miss Lombard's sister.  A kid actress, appearing on the screen for the first time, is Peggy Ann Garner.  She has some sweetness but lacks polish, doing her lines very deliberately and suggesting that air of unnatural action which too frequently is the fault of kids following adult coaching.

In his brief hospital scene, Maurice Moscovich turns in an exceedingly impressive effort as a physician with a foreign accent.

Los Angeles Times Film Review - August 26, 1939 

Awful Truth Is the Kind That Pleases

In Name Only is the type of picture that ladies love to sniffle over. You see, the "other woman" becomes the sympathetic character and the wife, who just married the dear boy for his money, turns into a real villainess. It's all very poignant but the males in the audience are due to get a chuckle out of the eternal triangle in reverse.

In Name Only opened yesterday at R.K.O.-Hillstreet and Pantages Hollywood theaters to full houses, about 75 percent women. They suffered ecstatically along with Carole Lombard and Cary Grant, who couldn't get married because Cary's wife wouldn't like it. Wives are funny that way.

Bessie Breuer's novel, Memory of Love, served as a basis for the production. Richard Sherman, screen writer, retained the intrinsic points. Performances are of a high order.

Triangle Reversed

Miss Lombard, who weeps right convincingly when she wants to, portrays the young widow (with a small child) who falls in love with the handsome Mr. Grant after a casual meeting on the banks of a stream and subsequent picnics. When she discovers he is a married man, she shoos him away, but he comes right back and convinces her that his wife (Kay Francis) has not taken him for better or for worse, but for his money and social position.

Love usually finds its way, but in this case the wife, shrewd and calculating, plays every trump card she possesses to keep her meal ticket. In fact, Grant has to almost die of pneumonia before Miss Lombard takes the final trick.

Difficult Part

Miss Lombard and Grant have more dramatic roles than usual, and only occasionally do their individual comedy characteristics shine through. Just enough, one might say, to relieve the hokum generated.

John Cromwell direct the R.K.O. feature with his usual deft touch.

Kay Francis, in a most unsympathetic role, gives a fine performance. It is a difficult job well done. Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson, Katharine Alexander, Jonathan Hale, Maurice Moscovich, Nella Walker, Peggy Ann Garner and Spencer Charters leave little to be desired as supporting players.

The Washington Post Film Review - August 31, 1939

Triple-Star Cast Gives New Film Brisk Interpretation

A closely woven succession of events, excellent acting and adroit direction serve to refurbish a familiar theme in the thoroughly diverting and, at times, moving screen play that inaugurated its Washington engagement in RDO-Keith's Theater last evening at 5:45. Were the word "Wife" prefixed to the title, a complete index would be afforded to the theme of this expertly contrived comedy-romance that cloaks the antiquity of its triangular story in new dressings of humor, gaiety and high spirits, only occasionally shot through with the deeper emotions.

In Name Only points out with some asperity precisely what complications can be brought into the lives of true lovers and those nearest them by an acquisitive, mercenary and vengeful wife, who refuses to divorce her husband in order that he may wed an honest and respectable young woman, with no predatory instincts whatsoever, whom he has met by merest chance. The wife's shrewd and shrewish plans are heartily furthered by another catty young wife who is her "best friend," albeit not above poaching a little on Alec Walker's time, interest and patience on her own account.

The Best Laid Plans

Maida Walker, after perceiving that she is getting nowhere rapidly is holding the counterfeit "affection" of the man she married solely for his money — and who knows it — accompanies his parents to Paris on the promise to secure a divorce in the quietest possible manner. She has no intention of doing any such gracious thing, but prolongs her absence beyond all reasonable length for the kindly purpose of giving Alec and Julie Eden, the mother of a small daughter who would make an interesting witness in court, ample rope to "hang themselves." It somehow doesn't work out quite that way, although Alec has to come down with a terrific attack of pneumonia and struggle for breath in an oxygen tent to prevent it. The revelatory bedside scenes are the ones that pay off Maida in something considerably better than her own coin.

A familiar plot, yes, but, as I have said, one which, in this instance, has been given new life and new zest by the deftness of Richard Sherman's adaptation of Bessie Breuer's novel Memory of Love and the manner of its enactment. The blithe mood in which the play has been written is taken full advantage of by Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Kay Francis and their associate players, led by Katherine Alexander, Nella Walker, Charles Coburn, Peggy Ann Garner, the precocious Washington child actress, and numerous others.

First honors, by all means, I should say, go to Cary Grant for so thoroughly natural, honest and amusing a portrayal of the central male character. His performance adds further proof that he rapidly is becoming one of the most facile and most reliable of the cinema's male stars. Carole Lombard, as Julie Eden, the young fashion artiste, shares the comedy scenes with Grant on his own footing. She is as assured, as spontaneously natural and as convincing as he is. Kay Francis, on the other hand, finds scant outlet for any sense of humor in her assignment to the subtly treacherous part of Maida Walker. She is as velvety and disarming a menace to domestic happiness and tranquility as ever clawed a friend . Helen Vinson, long absent from the local screen, as Suzanne, conceals a comparable nature less skillfully beneath a thin veneer of polished gush.

The supporting roles of prime importance are interpreted with characteristic skill by Charles Coburn, as the elder Walker; Nella Walker, his wife; Katherine Alexander, as Laura; Jonathan Hale, the family physician and counselor, and Maurice Moscovich, as his learned consultant. Their joint psychiatric ministrations finally bring order and a "happy ending" out of the chaos projected into their lives by Alec's frustrated wife.

Reading Eagle Film Review - September 3, 1939
The plight of an attractive young widow who meets and falls desperately in love with a married man offers a pulsating dramatic highlight about which pivots one of the screen's most appealing stories in In Name Only, costarring Carole Lombard, Cary Grant and Kay Francis. The hit film is now pleasing movie-goers at the Park.

The wife in this case is a heartless and selfish socialite whose only interest in the man she married is money and prestige. Accordingly, she refuses to grant him a release when he frankly asks for his freedom to marry the widow. Further, she threatens the two lovers with an unbearable scandal.

With their castles crashing about their ears the husband and his sweetheart fins it impossible to carry on and agree to separate forever.

Here the story takes an unexpected turn, mounting with dramatic rapidity to a soul-stirring climax.

Said to be one of 1939's most significant films, In Name Only is a powerful vehicle for its stellar trio. In addition to Carole Lombard, Cary Grant and Kay Francis, the RKO Radio Picture has a distinguished cast, among whom are Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson, Katharine Alexander, Jonathan Hale and Maurice Moscovich, directed by John Cromwell, renowned for Of Human Bondage.

Milwaukee Sentinel Film Review - September 19, 1939
Every histrionic trick in Mr. Cary Grant's repertoire was used successfully to make the new picture at the Warner theater extremely diverting screen fare. It is to say that without him and even despite engaging performances by Carole Lombard and Kay Francis, little more than mediocre entertainment would have been the net result. The sometimes sordid and unhealthy drama deals with two people who never should have married and a courageous widow who finally is able to pry her man from the inhuman clutches of his relentless wife. It is a film that will easily bring tears to the eyes of the sentimental and, as such, could have done handsomely with more comedy without destroying its effect. But in its present condition, Cary Grant makes In Name Only a first rate motion picture.

He is outstanding as the wealthy, handsome young man who learns soon after his marriage, despite the profound protestations of his mother and father, that his wife chose him for his money. Cary, who can cope successfully with comedy or heavy drama, keeps his Alec Walker portrayal restrained, sensible and at all times believable. He has a certain unpretentious charm and naturalness that never becomes revolting.

Miss Lombard and Miss Francis are capable, too, with their parts. The former portrays the young widow who falls madly in love with the married man and then suffers untold mental abuses when his wife refuses to divorce him. It is a terrific mental strain for her and it is nicely indicated in Miss Lombard's acting. I have never seen Miss Francis characterized to better advantage as she is as the mean wife. Only an actress with her experience and ability could make Maida Walker such a cold, scheming, yet human woman.

As I said, comedy could have been more judiciously distributed, for the tension in In Name Only is obviously too strong. However, the most is made of each comical scene and the sequence where Cary bounces into Lombard's room to announce that his wife has left for France to obtain a divorce gets more than a mild share of continuous laughs, though the banter is scarcely what you might call witty. Forgetting this lack, though, one will appreciate the smoothness and coherency of the film. Such supporting players as Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson and Katharine Alexander contribute their talents, but it remains for Cary Grant to make In Name Only well worth going out of your way to see.

Spokane Daily Chronicle Film Review - September 21, 1939
A loveless husband seeks release from his wily wife to wed the sympathetic "other woman" in the triangle play, In Name Only.

The picture is said to develop the "other woman's" side. This role is carried by Carole Lombard. Kay Francis portrays the wife who admits she does not love her husband but wants to keep him for the luxuries and social position he gives her. Cary Grant depicts the unhappy husband. Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson and Maurice Moscovich have important supporting roles in the RKO Radio Picture directed by John Cromwell from a screen play based on Memory of Love, a novel by Bessie Breuer.

"In Name Only" on Lux Radio Theatre - December 11, 1939
Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Kay Francis, Clara Blandick, Harry Walker, Jean Arden, Julie Bannon, Lou Merrill, Peggy Ann Garner, Wright Kramer

Purchase In Name Only on DVD

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