AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Great Flamarion
Alternate Title: Dead Pigeon
Director: Anthony Mann (Dir)
Release Date:   30 Mar 1945
Production Date:   Sep 1944 at California Studios
Duration (in mins):   78
Duration (in feet):   7,016
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Erich von Stroheim (The Great Flamarion)  
    Mary Beth Hughes (Connie Wallace)  
    Dan Duryea (Al Wallace)  
    Stephen Barclay (Eddie Wheeler)  
    Lester Allen (Tony)  
    Esther Howard (Cleo)  
    Michael Mark (Night watchman)  
    Joseph Granby (Detective)  
    John R. Hamilton (Coroner)  
    Fred Velasco (Mexican dancer)  
    Carmen Lopez (Mexican dancer)  
    Tony Ferrell (Mexican singer)  

Summary: In 1936, a performance in a Mexico City vaudeville hall is interrupted by the sound of gunshots emanating from backstage. After the body of Connie Wallace, one of the performers, is found, the police investigate and arrest Eddie Wheeler, her husband, for strangling her. Following the departure of the police, Tony, the clown, is collecting his stage props when a man with gunshot wounds falls from the rafters. Tony recognizes the man as "The Great Flamarion," a former vaudeville marksman renowned for his skill. Certain that he will die before the police arrive, Flamarion reveals to Tony why he, and not Eddie, murdered Connie: Some time before in Pittsburgh, Flamarion worked the vaudeville circuit, with Connie and her then husband, Al Wallace, as his assistants. Connie, a scheming confidence woman always searching for an angle, tires of Al, who is weak and perpetually drunk. Determined to better her situation by using Flamarion, Connie entraps him in a love affair, seducing him despite his long-standing mistrust of women. While Connie is trying to convince Flamarion that Al must be killed because he will never divorce her, she is also having an affair with Eddie, who does a bicycle act on the same bill with them. One night, Connie finally persuades Flamarion to kill Al, and the following Saturday, Flamarion shoots Al during a performance. The coroner's inquest determines that Al was drunk during the show and that Flamarion killed him accidentally. The love-addled Flamarion wants to leave immediately with Connie, but she tells him that they must wait to avoid arousing suspicion. Instructing him to meet her in Chicago in three months, Connie tells Flamarion that she is going to live with her mother, but actually, she leaves with Eddie for a year-long tour of Central America, during which time they are married. Three months later, Flamarion arrives at the appointed meeting place and is crushed when Connie does not appear. He discovers that the address she gave him for her mother does not exist and then begins searching for her. After Flamarion has lost all his money and has even pawned his prized pistols, he learns from Cleo, another performer, that Connie is in Mexico City with Eddie. Flamarion travels there and confronts Connie in her backstage dressing room. Connie desperately tries to convince Flamarion that it has all been a mistake and that she will go away with him, but the weary marksman knows that she is lying again. Although she wrests his gun away from him and shoots him, he strangles her before climbing to the rafters to hide. His story finished, Flamarion dies in Tony's arms as the police arrive. 

Production Company: Filmdom Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Republic Pictures Corp.  
Director: Anthony Mann (Dir)
  Raoul Pagel (Asst dir)
Producer: Howard Sheehan (Exec prod)
  William Wilder (Prod)
Writer: Anne Wigton (Scr)
  Heinz Herald (Scr)
  Richard Weil (Scr)
Photography: James S. Brown Jr. (Photog)
Art Direction: F. Paul Sylos (Art dir)
Set Decoration: Glen P. Thompson (Set dec)
Music: Alexander Laszlo (Mus score)
  David Chudnow (Mus supv)
Sound: Percy Townsend (Sd)
Production Misc: George Moskov (Prod mgr)
Country: United States

Songs: "Chita," music and lyrics by Faith Watson; "Lights of Broadway," music and lyrics by Lester Allen
Composer: Lester Allen
  Faith Watson
Source Text: Based on the short story "Big Shot" by Vicki Baum in Collier's (19 Sep 1936).
Authors: Vicki Baum

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Republic Pictures Corp. 23/2/1945 dd/mm/yyyy LP13190 Yes

PCA NO: 10519
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Film noir
Sub-Genre: with songs
Subjects (Major): Duplicity
  Femmes fatales
Subjects (Minor): Alcoholics
  Love affairs
  Mexico City (Mexico)

Note: The working titles of this film were Dead Pigeon and Strange Affair . The picture marked the debut of William Wilder as a motion picture producer. Wilder, who was sometimes credited as W. Lee Wilder on his later films, was an "eastern industrialist," according to a Sep 1944 HR news item, and was the brother of director Billy Wilder. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   21 Apr 1945.   
Daily Variety   13 Apr 45   p. 3.
Film Daily   5 Feb 45   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Sep 44   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Sep 44   p. 4, 17
Hollywood Reporter   29 Sep 44   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Apr 45   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   30 Dec 44   p. 2250.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   20 Jan 45   p. 2277.
New York Times   15 Jan 45   p. 15.
Variety   17 Jan 45   p. 14.

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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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