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Frenchman's Creek
Director: Mitchell Leisen (Dir)
Release Date:   1944
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 20 Sep 1944
Production Date:   18 Jun--14 Oct 1943
Duration (in mins):   110 or 113 min.
Duration (in feet):   10,121
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Cast:   Joan Fontaine (Dona St. Columb) Miss Fontaine's services by arrangement with David O. Selznick
    Arturo de Córdova (The Frenchman, Jean Benoit Aubery)  
    Basil Rathbone (Lord Rockingham)  
    Nigel Bruce (Lord Godolphin)  
    Cecil Kellaway (William)  
    Ralph Forbes (Harry St. Columb)  
    Harald Ramond (Edmond)  
    Billy Daniels (Pierre Blanc)  
    Moyna MacGill (Lady Godolphin)  
    Patricia Barker (Henrietta)  
    David James (James)  
    Mary Field (Prue)  
    David Clyde (Martin, the coachman)  
    Charles Coleman (Thomas, the footman)  
    Paul Oman (Luc)  
    Arthur Gould-Porter (Thomas Eustick)  
    Evan Thomas (Robert Penrose)  
    Leslie Denison (John Nankervis)  
    Denis Green (Philip Rashleigh)  
    George Kirby (Doctor Williams)  
    David Thursby (Ostler)  
    Lauri Beatty (Alice)  
    Ronnie Rondell (Member of pirate crew)  
    George Barton (Member of pirate crew)  
    Victor Romito (Member of pirate crew)  
    Robert Clarke (Member of pirate crew)  
    Allen Pinson (Member of pirate crew)  
    Patrick Desmond (Member of pirate crew)  
    Jimmy Dime (Member of pirate crew)  
    Harvey Easton (Member of pirate crew)  
    Henry Escalante (Member of pirate crew)  
    Art Foster (Member of pirate crew)  
    Vincent Gironda (Member of pirate crew)  
    Jacques Karre (Member of pirate crew)  
    John Latito (Member of pirate crew)  
    Rube Schaffer (Member of pirate crew)  
    Sammy Stein (Member of pirate crew)  
    Armand Tanny (Member of pirate crew)  
    Fred Kohler Jr. (Member of pirate crew)  
    John Roy (Member of pirate crew)  
    Neal Clisby (Member of pirate crew)  
    Noble Blake (Member of pirate crew)  
    Constance Worth (Woman in gaming house)  
    Phyllis Barry (Womam in gaming house)  
    Edward Cooper (Croupier)  
    Bob Stevenson (Guard in jail)  
    Alfred George Ferguson (Guard in jail)  
    Charles Irwin (Jailer)  
    Frank Hagney (Cournishman)  
    Gordon Richards (Guest)  
    Boyd Irwin (Guest)  
    David Cavendish (Guest)  
    Leyland Hodgson (Guest)  
    Kenneth Hunter (Guest)  
    Arthur Mulliner (Guest)  
    Keith Hitchcock (Watchman)  
    Leonard St. Leo    
    Jerry James    
    Alice Kirby    
    Louise La Planche    
    Charles Mayon    
    Fred Nay    
    Marcella Phillips    
    Hal Rand    
    Albert Ruiz    
    Audrey Westphall    
    Betty Walker    

Summary: In 1668, in London, Dona St. Columb, who is bored with city life, leaves her husband Harry when he refuses to acknowledge, and protect her from, the lecherous advances of his friend, Lord Rockingham. Dona takes her two children to Harry's ancestral home on the coast of Cornwall, where she is surprised to find only William, a servant unfamiliar to her. Dona laughs at her neighbor, Lord Godolphin, when he warns her of the treacherous French pirates who have been raiding the homes along the coast, but she is then kidnapped and taken to a pirate ship, La Mouette , that has dropped anchor in her own cove. Dona is thrilled by the presence of the pirate captain, who is known to her only as "The Frenchman," and invites him to her home for dinner. Although she is aware that Godolphin is forming a vigilante group to capture the pirates, Dona accepts The Frenchman's invitation to sail with him, and she leaves her children in the care of William. Wearing men's clothing, Dona narrowly escapes capture when she helps The Frenchman steal a French schooner laden with goods from Godolphin's cousin. Dona and The Frenchman fall in love, and when she finally returns home, she discovers that Harry and Rockingham have arrived to help Godolphin capture the pirates. William has covered for Dona's absence by telling her husband that she was sick in bed and could allow no visitors, and on Dona's urging, William goes to warn The Frenchman to set sail immediately. William delivers his message, but is shot in the arm by vigilantes, and returns to Dona to tell her that La Mouette will not be able to sail until midnight. That night, vigilantes gather at Dona's house for dinner, and she tries to detain them past midnight. The Frenchman and his men unexpectedly take the party hostage, and Rockingham becomes suspicious when he sees the loosely concealed familiarity between Dona and The Frenchman. The Frenchman bids farewell to his lady and, after the pirates make their escape, Rockingham jealously tries to force himself on Dona, who kills him in self-defense. The vigilantes, meanwhile, engage in battle with the pirates. The Frenchman allows himself to be captured in order to save his ship, but the ship stays nearby and Dona helps him escape from prison. Dona is tempted to leave her dull life to join The Frenchman, but chooses instead to remain with her husband and children, and The Frenchman sails away. 

Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: A Mitchell Leisen Production
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Mitchell Leisen (Dir)
  Richard McWhorter (1st asst dir)
  Herb Coleman (1st asst dir)
  Harry Hogan (2d asst dir)
  John Mari (2d asst dir)
  A. White (2d asst dir)
  Clem Jones (1st asst dir, 3rd unit)
Producer: B. G. DeSylva (Exec prod)
  David Lewis (Assoc prod)
Writer: Talbot Jennings (Scr)
Photography: George Barnes (Dir of photog)
  Karl Struss (1st cam, 3rd unit)
  Jack Warren (Cam op)
  Harry Merland (Cam op)
  Lothrop Worth (Cam op)
  Cecil Wright (Cam)
  Bud Fraker (Stills)
  I. Roberts (Cam misc)
  Paul Weddell (Cam misc)
  Howard Kelly (Gaffer)
Art Direction: Hans Dreier (Art dir)
  Ernst Fegté (Art dir)
  John Meehan (Art dir, asst)
Film Editor: Alma Macrorie (Ed)
Set Decoration: Sam Comer (Set dec)
  Ken Swartz (Set dresser, asst)
  Richard Brandow (Props)
  James M. Walters (Props)
  Robert Goodstein (Props)
  Fred Turk (Props)
  Jack DeGolconda (Props)
  Maurice Goodman (Props)
  Fred Bergamo (Propmaker)
  Fred Alles (Propmaker)
  Steven Green (Propmaker)
  Andrew Jack (Propmaker)
  Louis Madsen (Propmaker)
  Olaf Oleson (Propmaker)
  C. L. Jones (Propmaker)
Costumes: Raoul Pène du Bois (Cost des)
  Mme. [Barbara] Karinska ([Cost] executed by)
  Pat Williams (Ward)
  Julio Alonso (Ward man)
  William Rabb (Ward man)
  Hazel Haggerty (Ward woman)
  Grace Harris (Ward woman)
  B. Hijbal (Seamstress)
  F. Hijbal (Tailor)
Music: Victor Young (Mus score)
  Leo Shuken (Orch)
  George Parrish (Orch)
Sound: Donald McKay (Sd rec)
  Don Johnson (Sd rec)
  Lyle Figland (Boom op)
  Arnold Brown (Service recorder)
Special Effects: Gordon Jennings (Spec photog eff)
  Farciot Edouart (Process photog)
Make Up: Wally Westmore (Makeup artist)
  Charles Gemora (Makeup artist)
  Harold Lierly (Makeup artist)
  Don Donaldson (Makeup artist)
  Webb Overlander (Makeup artist)
  Leonora Sabine (Hair supv)
  Nellie Manley (Women's hair)
  Carmen Dirigo (Hair)
  Hazel Croft (Hair)
  C. Brenner (Makeup misc)
  H. Kraft (Makeup misc)
  H. Detter (Makeup misc)
Production Misc: Lonnie D'Orsa (Asst prod mgr)
  Hilda Grenier (Fashion tech adv)
  Venicia Severn (English coach)
  Capt. Fred Ellis (Tech adv for sailing ships)
  Aldo Nadi (Tech adv and instructor for fencing scenes)
  Dwight Franklin (Tech adv for pirates)
  Phyllis Loughton (Dial coach)
  Syd Street (Unit mgr)
  Rennie Renfro (Dog trainer)
  Irving Cooper (Script clerk)
  Marion Bach (Script clerk, 3rd unit)
  Bill Wallace (Operations)
  Al Grosser (Operations)
  John Woolfenden (Pub)
  William White (In charge of movement)
  Harry Smith (P.A. operator)
  W. Hurley (Stock supv)
  Joe Schuster (Best boy)
  A. Reid (Elec)
  G. Mahoney (Elec)
  T. Vash (Elec)
  J. Helman (Elec)
  W. Gaisford (Elec)
  Warren Hoag (Elec)
  J. Grindstaff (Elec)
  M. Gardner (Elec)
  B. Snodgrass (Elec)
  J. Sherman (Elec)
  F. Steiner (Elec)
  G. Spicer (Elec)
  Walter E. Sullivan (Generator op)
  Wesley Haight (Generator op)
  Fred True (1st grip)
  William Collins (Grip)
  Martin Baumeister (Grip)
  John Nostri (Grip)
  Vincent Bratton (Grip)
  Roy Larson (Grip)
  Cecil Gardiner (Grip)
  Frank Kauffman (Grip)
  Jack Leffman (Grip)
  Kenneth Smith (Grip)
  F. Carroll (Grip)
  Paul Way (Grip)
  Charles Kelly (Grip)
  F. Kral (Grip)
  W. Newman (Grip)
  C. Kelly (Grip)
  H. Thompson (Grip)
  James Ratsonas (Driver)
  Paul Stuart (Driver)
  Ray Herrick (Driver)
  Ralph E. Shenk (Driver)
  Russ Welch (Transportation misc)
  Charles W. Robbins (Transportation misc)
  C. Dowhen (Transportation misc)
  W. Sherman (Transportation misc)
  F. Busselles (Transportation misc)
  B. Ambler (Transportation misc)
  E. Farmer (Transportation misc)
  J. Willharber (Transportation misc)
  T. Tedford (Transportation misc)
  D. Norton (Transportation misc)
  Jim Moore (Draperyman)
  Harold Clemens (Projectionist)
  Walter Huber (Bird men)
  J. H. Kerr (Bird men)
  Henry Trigg (Wrangler)
  Bud Pope (Wrangler)
  T. McIrvin (Wrangler)
  Ben Wallace (Dog man)
Stand In: George Hill (Stand-in)
  Nick Borgani (Stand-in)
  Allen Pinson (Double)
  Charles Head (Fencing double)
  Aldo Nadi (Fencing double, double for Arturo de Cordova and Ralph Forbes)
  Capt. Somers (Double for Nigel Bruce)
  Eleanor Stewart (Double for Joan Fontaine)
  Victor Romito (Double for Leslie Denison)
  Dick Talmadge (Stunt double)
  Otto Metzetti (Stunt double)
  Paul Stader (Stunt double)
  Lila Finn (Stunt double)
  Jack Semple (Stunt double)
  George Dockstader (Stunt double)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor color dir)
  Robert Brower (Assoc)
  Thad Brooks (Technicolor cam tech)
  Paul Weddell (Technicolor cam tech)
  Robert King (Technicolor asst cam)
  Jack Fugua (Technicolor asst cam)
  Cecil Myers (Technicolor cam loader)
  Adolph Prautsch (Technicolor cam mech)
  Leonard Doss (Technicolor color control)
Country: United States

Music: "Clair de lune" by Claude Debussy.
Songs: "Le temp s'en va," poem by Pierre de Ronsard, music by Troy Sanders; "Ali! Alo!" French folk song; "Que drôle," music by Troy Sanders, lyrics by Russell Bennett.
Composer: Russell Bennett
  Claude Debussy
  Pierre de Ronsard
  Troy Sanders
Source Text: Based on the novel Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier (Garden City, NY, 1942).
Authors: Daphne du Maurier

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Paramount Pictures, Inc. 12/9/1944 dd/mm/yyyy LP13021 Yes

PCA NO: 9473
Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

 
Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre: Historical
 
Subjects (Major): Aristocracy
  Great Britain--History--17th century
  Love affairs
  Pirates
 
Subjects (Minor): Cornwall (England)
  French
  Escapes
  Gambling
  Gunshot wounds
  Lechery
  Male impersonation
  Marriage
  Nobility
  Robbery
  Schooners
  Seasickness
  Servants
  Sword fights
  Vigilantes

Note: According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the APMAS Library, beginning in 1941, various producers, including David O. Selznick and Louis B. Mayer, submitted Daphne Du Maurier's novel, Frenchman's Creek , to the PCA for story approval. However, the PCA continually rejected the story because it concerned "adultery and illicit love without compensating moral values." Paramount, however, persevered despite changes demanded by the PCA, including the following: "Having in mind that Dona is a married woman, and the mother of two children, we shall have to insist that there be no physical contact between her and the Frenchman....Somewhere along the line, it will be necessary for you to get from Dona an affirmative, direct statement, delivered convincingly, that there has been no immoral relationship between her and the Frenchman." At the close of the film, when "Dona" is forced to choose between returning to her husband or leaving with the pirate, "The Frenchman" tells her, "Of course, if you choose to stay in England, there is nothing that has happened between us that would make your marriage a pretense."
       According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, David O. Selznick suggested that Paramount use Stanley Cortez as photographer; however, George Barnes was assigned. Information in the Paramount Collection also revealed that Sir Cedric Hardwicke was originally cast as "William," and worked for several weeks on the film, and that Doris Lloyd was initially cast as "Lady Godolphin." News items reveal that leading actresses considered for the role of "Dona" were Merle Oberon, Irene Dunne, Vivien Leigh, Rosalind Russell and Katina Paxinou, and that Charles Boyer was considered for the male lead. Nigel Bruce was loaned by Universal Pictures, Harald Ramond was loaned by Charles Rogers Productions, and Basil Rathbone was loaned by M-G-M for this film.
       Frenchman's Creek was shot on location in Mendocino County, CA, at Albion Creek and Mallory's Cove. In her autobiography, Joan Fontaine notes that she was put on suspension at Selznick Productions because she initially refused to accept this role. The film's final cost was approximately $3,800,000, according to NYT . The Var review claims this budget was Paramount's biggest "in history." The Tidings , a weekly Catholic newspaper, called the screenplay "the most immoral...of the year." Frenchman's Creek won an Academy Award for Art Direction/Interior Decoration (color), Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté/Sam Comer. Du Maurier's novel was filmed again in 1998, as a British telefilm starring Tara Fitzgerald and Anthony Delon; this version was first broadcast in the U.S. on 25 Apr 1999. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   23 Sep 1944.   
Daily Variety   20 Sep 44   pp. 3-4.
Film Daily   20 Sep 44   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Oct 41   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Mar 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Apr 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jun 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Nov 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   21 May 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Sep 44   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Sep 44   p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   10 Jul 43   p. 1416.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   23 Sep 44   p. 2109.
New York Times   9 Jul 1944.   
New York Times   21 Sep 44   p. 26.
Variety   20 Sep 44   p. 10.

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