AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Gentle Annie
Director: Andrew Marton (Dir)
Release Date:   1944
Premiere Information:   New York and Los Angeles opening: 4 May 1945
Production Date:   7 Aug--early Sep 1944; addl scenes began late Sep 1944
Duration (in mins):   80-81
Duration (in feet):   7,165
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   James Craig (Lloyd Richland [also known as Rich Williams])  
    Donna Reed (Mary Lingen)  
    Marjorie Main (Annie [Muddy] Goss)  
    Henry ["Harry"] Morgan (Cottonwood Goss)  
    Paul Langton (Violet Goss)  
    Barton MacLane (Sheriff Tatum)  
    John Philliber (Barrow)  
    Morris Ankrum (Gansby)  
    Noah Beery Sr. (Hansen)  
    Frank Darien (Jake)  
    Robert Emmet O'Connor (Childers)  
    Arthur Space (Barker)  
    Norman Willis (Cowboy)  
    Lee Phelps (Expressman)  
    Ray Teal (Expressman)  
    John Merton (Engineer)  
    Lee Shumway (Fireman)  
    Art Miles (Conductor)  
    Jim Farley (Conductor)  
    Jack Clifford (Brakeman)  
    Wade Crosby (Brakeman)  
    Charles Williams (Candy butcher)  

Summary: In the Oklahoma Territory, in 1901, a train is held up by three masked bandits, who steal and then blow up an express company strongbox, burning most of the money and scorching the rest. The next morning, two of the robbers, brothers Cottonwood and Violet Goss, leave their rundown ranch with the usable money and head for town. At the same time, U.S. Marshal Lloyd Richland, disguised as a drifter named Rich Williams, arrives in town and chats with Barrow, the town drunk, about the robbery. At the saloon, which is owned by Sheriff Tatum, Lloyd encourages Barrow to theorize about who may have committed the robbery, and Barrow reveals that the Goss brothers are the town's leading suspects. Barrow adds, however, that as one of the thieves was described as a pigtailed Indian, and the Gosses have never associated with Indians, Cottonwood and Violet could be innocent. Lloyd and "ladies man" Violet then vie for the attention of overworked waitress Mary Lingen, who rejects their flirtations and quits in anger. Mary also spurns Tatum's advances, which leads to a vicious brawl between Violet and the sheriff. As Tatum is about to shoot Violet, with whom he has had a long-standing feud, Lloyd intercedes, saving Violet. In gratitude, Violet offers his home to Lloyd, and afterward, they run into Mary, who is trying to barter for a train ticket to St. Louis. The brothers invite the penniless Mary to stay with them for the night, and she, Lloyd, Cottonwood and Violet ride out to the Goss ranch together. Annie, whom Violet and Cottonwood affectionately call "Muddy," greets the strangers with open warmth. When Annie, who has yearned to return to Missouri ever since the death of her husband, learns that Mary "has no people," she invites her to stay indefinitely. Annie then shows Mary a drawing of a fancy velvet hat that she has secretly coveted, and Mary encourages her to ask Cottonwood and Violet to buy it for her. Over dinner, Annie, a loyal Southerner, talks glowingly about Missouri and her frustration at not having enough money to move back. Annie then pulls out the hat picture to show to Cottonwood and Violet, and her devoted sons present her with the real thing, having ordered it by mail weeks before. Just then, the family hears horses in the distance, and Cottonwood, Violet and Lloyd ride to investigate. The trespassers, Tatum and his deputy, fire at the brothers, then flee into the darkness. Later, Mary, who is attracted to Lloyd, asks him whether she should stay with the Gosses, and he gives her some cash so that, if she chooses to stay, it will be for the right reasons. Lloyd then admits that, despite their reputations, Cottonwood and Violet seem like decent, honest men. The next morning, however, Lloyd discovers eye-sized remnants of cut cloth in Annie's room and becomes suspicious. Lloyd then spies Barrow snooping around and forces him to admit that he has a scorched five-dollar bill from the storekeeper, which he claims came from the Goss brothers. Just then, Violet announces that he found Tatum's bullet-riddled hat by their creek. Violet and Cottonwood ride to town and accuse Tatum, who years before shot their father in the back during a fight, of trespassing. Later, Mary reveals to Lloyd that she knows that Violet and Cottonwood robbed the train with Annie, whose pigtails resemble Indian-style braids. Mary begs Lloyd not to turn the family in for the reward, and after declaring that he would never betray their trust, he kisses her. Tatum, meanwhile, discovers Barrow's five-dollar bill and pressures him into revealing its source. At the same time, Cottonwood and Violet show Lloyd their stash and invite him to participate in another robbery. Lloyd finally reveals his identity, and Violet, feeling betrayed, turns his gun on him. Before Violet can shoot Lloyd, however, he is distracted by the sounds of gunshots coming from the ranch house. Promising that he will honor their superior position later, Lloyd convinces the brothers to allow him to join in the fight. When they reach the house, however, they discover that Annie has been shot and killed by Tatum. The brothers race to town to confront the sheriff, and a gunfight ensues. Violet and Tatum shoot and kill each other, and Lloyd arrests Cottonwood. Later, after Lloyd puts Cottonwood on a train to marshal headquarters, Mary decides to stay in Oklahoma with Lloyd. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Andrew Marton (Dir)
  Russell Haverick (Asst dir)
Producer: Robert Sisk (Prod)
Writer: Lawrence Hazard (Scr)
Photography: Charles Salerno Jr. (Dir of photog)
  Walter Lundin (Dir of photog)
  David Ragin (2d cam)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Leonid Vasian (Art dir)
Film Editor: Chester W. Schaeffer (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Glen Barner (Assoc)
Costumes: Irene (Cost supv)
Music: David Snell (Mus score)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
  Charles E. Wallace (Unit mixer)
  James Z. Flaster (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Standish J. Lambert (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Robert W. Shirley (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Newell Sparks (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  William Steinkamp (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Michael Steinore (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  John A. Williams (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Edward Baravalle (Mus mixer)
  M. J. McLaughlin (Mus mixer)
  William J. Saracino (Mus mixer)
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe (Matte paintings)
  Mark Davis (Matte paintings cam)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the novel Gentle Annie by MacKinlay Kantor (New York, 1942).
Authors: MacKinlay Kantor

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 19/12/1944 dd/mm/yyyy LP13027 Yes

PCA NO: 10457
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Western
Subjects (Major): Brothers
  Mothers and sons
  United States. Marshals
Subjects (Minor): Alcoholics
  Undercover operations

Note: HR news items and M-G-M publicity material provide the following information about the production: M-G-M purchased MacKinlay Kantor's novel in Feb 1942. Filming began on 6 Oct 1942, but when director W. S. Van Dyke II became ill in early Nov 1942, production was halted. Tay Garnett was to take over direction on 9 Nov 1942, but the project was shelved and not revived until Jun 1944. The 1942 version was produced by Sam Zimbalist and starred Robert Taylor as "Lloyd Richland," Susan Peters as "Mary Lingen," Spring Byington as "Annie Goss," Charles Grapewin as "Barrow" and Morris Ankrum as the sheriff. Robert Sterling was first cast as "Violet Goss" and Van Johnson as "Cotton Goss," but when Sterling dropped out of the production to join the Air Corps, Johnson was reassigned to Violet, and James Craig was assigned to Cotton. Ray June was the cameraman; Gabriel Scognamillo, the art director; Bill Lewis, the assistant director; and Robert Kern, the editor on the aborted version.
       When the project was revived in 1944, the script was rewritten and all the principal crew and cast, except Ankrum and Craig, were replaced. In mid-Jun 1944, Garnett was again announced as the probable director, and Bruce Kellogg was announced as Taylor's probable replacement. Craig, however, who was previously cast as Cotton, was eventually cast in Taylor's role, Lloyd. Although Charles Salerno received onscreen credit as director of photography, Walter Lundeen is listed as co-cameraman in later HR production charts. In addition, 1944 HR production charts list Chill Wills as a cast member, but he did not appear in the released film. John Philliber, who plays "Barrow" in the film, died on 8 Nov 1944, shortly after filming ended. Gentle Annie was his last picture. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   23 Dec 1944.   
Daily Variety   20 Dec 44   p. 3.
Film Daily   20 Dec 44   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Sep 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Sep 42   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Oct 42   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Oct 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Oct 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Oct 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Oct 42   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Nov 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Nov 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Nov 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Nov 42   p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Jun 44   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Aug 44   pp. 1-2, 46
Hollywood Reporter   8 Sep 44   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Sep 44   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Sep 44   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Dec 44   p. 3.
Los Angeles Times   5 May 1945.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   18 Nov 44   p. 2186.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   23 Dec 44   p. 2238.
New York Times   5 May 45   p. 11.
Variety   20 Dec 44   p. 8.

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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.
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