|College of Communications|
Robert W. Chambers
proprietary research for upcoming
|Title and Crew
|The Common Law (1931)|
Carroll Clark .... art director
|Cast (in credits order)
Constance Bennett .... Valerie West
Emile Chautard .... Doorman
A movie with an interesting view
of marriage as social convention. This movie has a lot of interesting
things to say about marriage. Primarily its message is that marriage is
a social convention. Women get married because marriage offers "protection."
The emphasis in this movie is on social protection: marriage will protect
women from malicious social gossip and from other lecherous males.
FROM TV GUIDE: Bennett of the sophisticated manner and voice is living with sugar daddy Cody in Paris when she agrees to model for impoverished artist McCrea. They fall in love and she abandons money for art by moving in with the painter. The story is comprised of stormy breakups and reconciliations, with abortive attempts by Cody to sabotage the affair. Bennett is happy with the arrangement and refuses to consider marrying McCrea until he is called home to Tarrytown, New York, proving he has been a closet conservative all along. The family exerts pressure on them to give up their decadent European lifestyles and tie the knot. There was some titillation over the scene wherein Bennett peels off her clothes for the artist, and the suggestion of Bennett, naked and posing, is well carried through. Mainly though, one is left wondering why she left the sugar daddy in the first place. The lively and literate piece became an RKO money-maker in a very lean Depression year. Remake of silent versions in 1916 and 1923.
Synopsis: A wealthy man's mistress abandons her luxurious life as a kept woman to be with the struggling Paris artist she has come to love in this third version of Robert W. Chambers' novel. It all began when she agreed to be his model. Soon they fall in love, and she decides to dump her rich old sugar daddy. Unfortunately, her relationship with the artist is tempestuous, and matters aren't helped by her former lover who tries to sabotage them at every turn. Though the artist wants to marry her, the woman isn't interested because he is too Bohemian and irresponsible. Fortunately, it all turns out to be an act and thanks to pressure from his conservative American family, marital bliss ensues. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide
Constance Bennett was the eldest of three daughters born to theatrical luminary Richard Bennett and his wife, actress Adrienne Morrison. Though her father did everything he could to discourage her from pursuing an acting career, Constance was willful and rebellious almost from the moment of her birth. She tried to break away from Daddy's influence by marrying at age 16, but the union was quickly annulled. At 17, Constance was signed to a Goldwyn movie contract on the strength of her family name. She treated her silent-film career as a lark, but along the way she developed a superb sense of comic timing and an instinctive gift for heavy dramatics. After her second marriage in 1926, Constance left films in favor of the international "party set"; her third husband was the Marquis de la Falaise de la Coudray, a well-known playboy of questionable royal lineage who'd previously been married to Gloria Swanson. In the early 1930s, after the termination of this marriage, Constance returned to films, specializing in "fallen woman" roles before switching to light comedy in such films as The Affairs of Cellini (1934) and Topper (1937). At one point she was the highest paid actress in Hollywood. In 1945 she became a producer, bankrolling a film titled Paris Underground , in which she co-starred with British musical favorite Gracie Fields. During the 1950s, Ms. Bennett appeared in numerous stage productions, and also ran a successful cosmetics firm. Constance's fifth and longest-lasting husband, whom she married in 1946, was Brigadier General John Theron Couper (for the record, husband #4 was actor Gilbert Roland); at age 59, she died of a cerebral hemorrhage in the Walson Army Hospital at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where her husband was stationed. Constance Bennett was the sister of actresses Barbara and Joan Bennett, and the aunt of radio talk-show host Morton Downey Jr. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
American actor Joel McCrea came from a California family with roots reaching back to the pioneer days. As a youth, McCrea satiated his fascination with movies by appearing as an extra in a serial starring Ruth Roland . By 1920, high schooler McCrea was a movie stunt double, and by the time he attended USC, he was regularly appearing at the Pasadena Playhouse. McCrea's big Hollywood break came with a part in the 1929 talkie Jazz Age ; he matriculated into one of the most popular action stars of the 1930s, making lasting friendships with such luminaries as director Cecil B. DeMille and comedian Will Rogers. It was Rogers who instilled in McCrea a strong business sense, as well as a love of ranching; before the 1940s had ended, McCrea was a multi-millionaire, as much from his land holdings and ranching activities as from his film work. Concentrating almost exclusively on westerns after appearing in The Virginian (1946), McCrea became one of that genre's biggest box-office attractions. He extended his western fame to an early-1950s radio series, Tales of the Texas Rangers, and a weekly 1959 TV oater, Wichita Town , in which McCrea costarred with his son Jody. In the late 1960s, McCrea increased his wealth by selling 1200 acres of his Moorpark (California) ranch to an oil company, on the proviso that no drilling would take place within sight of the actor's home. By the time he retired in the early 1970s, McCrea could take pride in having earned an enduring reputation not only as one of Hollywood's shrewdest businessmen, but as one of the few honest-to-goodness gentlemen in the motion picture industry. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
|Operator 13 (1934)|
Directed by Richard Boleslawski
Cinematography by George J. Folsey (as George
Film Editing by Frank Sullivan
Art Direction by Cedric Gibbons
Costume Design by Adrian (gowns)
Assistant Director: Robert A. Golden (uncredited)
Maurice De Packh .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Original Music by
Non-Original Music by
|Cast (in credits order)
Marion Davies .... Gail Loveless, aka Operator 13, Lucille
'Lucy', Anne Claybourne
Uncredited Cast Roles:
Ernie Adams .... Orderly Larry Adler .... Specialty
Two actresses serve the Union cause by spying in the South, but one falls in love with a Confederate officer in charge of spying.
After the Bull Run battles Gail Loveless (Marion Davies) sings at Ford's Theater and is recommended by Eleanor to Major Allen (Sidney Toler) as a spy. She becomes Operator 13 and disguises herself as a Negro maid doing laundry, talking with Confederate soldiers. Captain Jack Gailliard (Gary Cooper) spied in the north and is now in uniform as head of spying from Richmond. He meets Mrs. Vale, who is the actress Pauline Cushman (Katharine Alexander) spying for the north as Operator 27. Gail takes clothes to General Stuart and hears the plan, which she tells to Pauline after several songs by the Mills Brothers. Soldiers led by Captain Channing (Willard Robertson) find a federal pass in Mrs. Vale's house. Gail gives the information to traveling Dr. Hitchcock before she is taken as a witness in the spy trial. Gail says Pauline is a Yankee actress, which they already knew; but she helps her to escape. The Confederate attack is met by a cannon barrage as they try to cross the Potomac River. In Washington Pauline and Gail ask Major Allen for a bath.
Gail now blonde again is told of spies trying to organize a confederacy in the midwest, and they suspect Gailliard. Gail is deported south as the Confederate sympathizer Ann Claiborne. Gailliard is told to find out about her at the Shacklefords. There Gail learns of a battery placement at Drury Bluffs. Gailliard arrives and walks with Gail. On a swing she sings "Once In a Lifetime." She passes word of the battery. Gailliard dances with her at a wedding. Union cannon fires on the battery. The bride learns the bridegroom is not coming, because he was killed. Gail cries and tells Gailliard she hates war. They say they love each other. Captain Channing informs Gailliard that Ann Claiborne is in a northern prison. Gailliard looks for Gail, but she rides off in a Confederate uniform as he is wounded. He finds her in an empty house and wakes her up to arrest her, blaming her for being a woman spy. They watch Union troops execute Channing. Gailliard says Gail can call to them; but as fighting breaks out, they run off and break the handcuffs. Gail tells Gailliard to go, because she loves him.
After the war ends, Gailliard tells Gail that all must forget war, hatred, and division, and she says to remember loyalty and love.
Although Gail's initial disguise is absurd, this story
does reflect actual incidents in the Civil War, and the romantic love makes
the violence of war seem more absurd than anything else.
Operator 13 stars Marion Davies & Gary Cooper
Coop was ideally suited for the role of a cavalry officer in Operator 13, the Civil War drama that was one of producer William Randolph Hearst's favorite movies. Marion Davies and Gary Cooper became life-long friends after appearing together and Coop and his wife, Rocky, became Hearst favorites and were regular guests at the San Simeon weekends and the big Ocean House parties.
From Coop's bio: Coop next went on loan to MGM for a rather
curious Civil War drama, Operator 13, playing a Confederate soldier with
whom Union spy Marion Davies falls in love. The filming was not a happy
experience for Coop - he did not see eye-to-eye with director Richard Boleslavsky's
ideas about 'character motivation', never a big concern for Cooper. Also,
Davies' lover, powerful magnate William Randolph Hearst, was constantly
on the set, unreasonably jealous and hostile.
(1) Gail Loveless (Marion
Davies) is a singer in the Pauline Cushman players, an acting troupe touring
the Union camps during the Civil War. She is spotted by two scouts and
is offered a position as a Union Spy. Proclaimed Operator 13, Gail embarks
on a mission (as a mulatto launderer!) into the deep south. She meets dashing
Captain John Galliard (Gary Cooper) at the river and is taken by his great
(2) Gail Loveless (Marion Davies),
a spy known as Operator 13 working for the Union and Federal cause during
the Civil War, posing as a Confederate woman named Anne Claybourne, meets
and falls in love with Confederate Captain Jack Galliard (Gary Cooper.)
Dusguised as an octoroom maid at a Confedarate military ball, she learns
and relays secrets to the Union forces that are devastating to the Rebel
cause. Assigned to the case to track down and kill the spy maid, Galliard
learns she is also the woman he loves, but proceeds with his assignment.
He captures her but is in danger of being captured himself as Federal forces
are approaching. Gail/Anne saves him and they part to wait until peace
comes to resume their romance.
(3) Summary: One of Marion Davies'
better efforts! Civil war story with Marion Davis as a Confederate
spy disguised as a slave. Not politically correct by today's standards
("Negroes always gossip" is one of the more controversial lines from the
script), but it does prove that Marion Davies was a competent actress when
given the chance.
TV GUIDE: Davies is an actress during the Civil War who becomes a Union spy. She goes behind Confederate lines with experienced spy Alexander and they end up at the mansion Gen. Jeb Stuart uses for his headquarters. Alexander is a guest at the mansion and Davies is hired as a washerwoman. Davies meets Cooper, who is a scout. Alexander is discovered as a spy and sentenced to death. Davies helps her escape back to Union lines and learns that Cooper is organizing southern sympathizers in the North. She pretends to be a southern belle at a mansion in Richmond, meets Cooper again, and they fall in love. Eventually, Davies is discovered and makes her escape with another Union spy. Cooper tracks them down as a Union column approaches. The other spy wants to kill Cooper, but Davies handcuffs herself to her lover and they hide in a well. The Union soldiers shoot the other spy, who is dressed as a Confederate soldier, but they leave when they cannot find Davies. Cooper and Davies come out of the well, Cooper breaks the handcuffs, kisses her goodbye, and goes back to his outfit. This was Cooper's third loan-out from Paramount for this strictly Davies film. Folsey was nominated for an Academy Award for his photography.
Operator 13 (1934)
Directed by Richard Boleslawski Writing credits Robert W. Chambers (stories) Harvey F. Thew (screenplay)
Genre: Drama / Romance Plot Summary for Operator 13 (1934)
Gail Loveless (Marion Davies), a spy known as Operator 13 working for the
Union and Federal cause during the Civil War, posing as a Confederate woman
named Anne Claybourne, meets and falls in love with Confederate Captain
Jack Galliard (Gary Cooper.) Dusguised as an octoroom maid at a Confedarate
military ball, she learns and relays secrets to the Union forces that are
devastating to the Rebel cause. Assigned to the case to track down and
kill the spy maid, Galliard learns she is also the woman he loves, but
proceeds with his assignment. He captures her but is in danger of being
captured himself as Federal forces are approaching. Gail/Anne saves him
and they part to wait until peace comes to resume their romance. Complete
credited cast: Marion Davies .... Gail Loveless, aka Operator 13, Lucille
'Lucy', Anne Claybourne Gary Cooper .... Capt. Jack Gailliard Jean Parker
.... Eleanor Shackleford Katharine Alexander .... Pauline Cushman, aka
Mrs. Mary Vale, Operator 27 Ted Healy .... Capt. Hitchcock (medicine show
doctor) Russell Hardie .... Capt. Hitchcock (the medicine show doctor)
Henry Wadsworth .... Lt. Gus Lilttledale Douglass Dumbrille .... Confederate
Capt. John Pelham (as Douglas Dumbrille) Willard Robertson .... Capt. Cornelius
Channing Fuzzy Knight .... Pvt. Sweeney (Stuart's groom) Sidney Toler ....
Maj. Allen, aka Allen Pinkerton Robert McWade (I) .... Col. Sharpe Marjorie
Gateson .... Mrs. Shackleford Wade Boteler .... Gaston Walter Long (I)
.... Operator 55 (more) Also Known As: Spy 13 (1934) : Outstanding b&w
cinematography highlights Civil War spy story. If it weren't for George
Folsey's extraordinary cinematography, this would be just another B film.
The story is totally implausible and the film's structure is rather disjointed.
Competent work from Cooper and Davies (if you can buy her in black face
pretending to be a slave, you can buy just about anything). What is mesmerizing
and what keeps one glued to the screen are the images. MGM had suddenly
achieved its "look" in 1934. Compare to some of its 1933 releases when
the photography was still "flat." Here there is a remarkable use of light
and shadow, especially in the use of silhouettes. The soft focus in one
early dawn river scene is breathtaking. Why MGM and Mr. Folsey would give
this such class A treatment for visuals but betray it in other departments
is an enigma. Whatever, it's an entertaining and odd little film whose
cinematography makes it a must-see!
Synopsis: If you can accept blonde, blue-eyed Marion Davies disguising herself in blackface, chances are you'll swallow the rest of Operator 13 . Davies plays a Belle Boyd-like actress who agrees to become a Northern spy during the Civil War. She assumes the identity of an octoroon servant and heads into Southern territory. Marion meets dashing Confederate captain Gary Cooper , and instantly falls in love with him. Later, she assumes the disguise of a Southern belle to prevent Cooper from recruiting Southern sympathizers in the north. This time Cooper falls for Davies, which makes it hard for her to carry out her mission. After several more reels of espionage and romantic interludes, including a gently kinky sequence in which Cooper and Davies are handcuffed together, the lovers part company, promising to meet again when the war is over. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
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