AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
California
Director: John Farrow (Dir)
Release Date:   21 Feb 1947
Premiere Information:   New York premiere: 14 Jan 1947; Monterey, CA premiere: 27 Jan 1947
Production Date:   23 Nov 1945--1 Feb 1946
Duration (in mins):   97-98
Duration (in feet):   8,760
Print this page
Display Movie Summary


Cast:   Ray Milland (Jonathan Trumbo)  
    Barbara Stanwyck (Lily Bishop)  
    Barry Fitzgerald (Michael Fabian)  
    George Coulouris (Pharaoh Coffin)  
    Albert Dekker (Mr. Pike)  
    Anthony Quinn (Don Luis Rivera y Hernandez)  
    Frank Faylen (Whitey)  
    Gavin Muir (Booth Pennock)  
    James Burke (Pokey)  
    Eduardo Ciannelli (Padre)  
    Roman Bohnen (Colonel Stuart)  
    Argentina Brunetti (Elvira)  
    Howard Freeman (Senator Creel)  
    Julia Faye (Wagon woman)  
    Crane Whitley (Abe Clinton)  
    Joey Ray (Pennock's partner/Miner)  
    Tommy Tucker (Elwyn Smith)  
    Frances Morris (Elwyn's mother/Stoney-eyed woman)  
    Minerva Urecal (Emma, town matron)  
    Virginia Farmer (Town matron)  
    Dock McGill (Coffin's servant)  
    Sam Flint (Higgins)  
    Stanley Andrews (Willoughby)  
    Don Beddoe (Stark)  
    Harry Hayden (Barrett)  
    Ian Wolfe (President Polk)  
    Phil Tead (Eddie, cashier)  
    Jack Baxley (Cowhand)  
    Kathryn Sheldon (Gaunt wagon woman)  
    Ethan Laidlaw (Reb)  
    Gertrude Hoffman (Old woman)  
    George McDonald (Boy)  
    Billy Andrews (Boy)  
    Gary Armstrong (Boy)  
    Eddie Ehrhart (Boy)  
    Albert Ray (Boy)  
    Diane Ervin (Wagon woman/Miner's wife)  
    Janet Thomas (Wagon woman)  
    Alan Bridge (Town marshal)  
    Bud Geary (Blacksmith)  
    Dick Wessel (Blacksmith)  
    Tom Fadden (Stranger)  
    Guy Wilkerson (Stranger)  
    Ed Randolph (Stranger)  
    Rex Lease (Stranger)  
    Frank Hagney (Stranger)  
    George Magrill (Stranger)  
    Pepito Perez (Piano player)  
    Wesley Hopper (Faro dealer)  
    Lester Dorr (Mike, the dealer)  
    Al Ferguson (Card player)  
    Robert R. Stephenson (Barber)  
    Phil Dunham (Barber)  
    Philip Van Zandt (Mr. Gunce)  
    Harry Cording (Miner)  
    George Anderson (Miner)  
    Joe Bernard (Miner)  
    Stanley Blystone (Miner)  
    William Hunter (Miner)  
    James Davies (Miner)  
    George Lloyd (Miner)  
    Jack Clifford (Miner)  
    Joe Whitehead (Miner/Onlooker/Steamship clerk/Delegate)  
    Perc Launders (Printer)  
    LeRoy Taylor (Barber shop customer)  
    Joe Gilbert (Telegraph operator)  
    Lee Phelps (Bartender)  
    Jimmie Dundee (Gambler)  
    Jesse Graves (Black servant)  
    Kernan Cripps (Shopkeeper)  
    Hal Brown (Newsboy)  
    Clancy Cooper (Cavalry N.C.O.)  
    Frank Ferguson (Cavalry officer)  
    Francis Ford (Jessie)  
    Si Jenks (Settler)  
    Louis Mason (Slim)  
    George Barton (Farmer)  
    Darby Jones (Black slave)  
    LeRoy Edwards (Black slave)  
    Will Wright (Chairman)  
    Tony Paton (Delegate)  
    Fredric Santley (Delegate)  
    George Melford (Delegate)  
    Len Hendry (Spectator)  
    Tom Chatterton (Joe, chauffeur)  
    Dave Kashner (Whipman)  
    Martin Garralaga (Mexican sheepherder)  
    Pedro Regas (Mexican sheepherder)  
    Betty Farrington    
    John Sheehan    
    Eddy Chandler    
    Ralph Dunn    
    Lane Chandler    
    Russ Clark    
    Jeff Corey    
    William Hall    
    Sheik, a horse    

Summary: During the California gold rush, a wagon train guided by ex-Army lieutenant Jonathan Trumbo, a deserter, stops in a small town, where Lily Bishop, a woman traveling alone, is thrown out of the saloon and accused of cheating at poker. Lil asks to join the wagon train, but because Trumbo refuses to take her, kindly old farmer Michael Fabian invites her to ride with him. Throughout the journey, Trumbo is unkind to Lil and she is snubbed by the women. When Lil beats Trumbo at poker one night, he accuses her of cheating. Later he kisses her, but she swears revenge. When news arrives that gold has been found in California, the pioneers abandon their goods and hurry West, and Lil leaves with a rough man named Booth Pennock, determined to make her own fortune. Trumbo tries to apologize to Lil, but Pennock whips him as they ride out. Fabian nurses Trumbo's shoulder and drives him West. Some time later they arrive in Pharaoh City, run by ex-slave trader Pharaoh Coffin, who is determined to make California an independent nation state so that he can rule. In the Golden Lily Saloon, owned by Lil, a farmer named Whitey tells Trumbo that Coffin has been forcing the farmers off their land by charging exorbitant prices for water and protection. Lil rescues Trumbo from a brawl with Pike, Coffin's henchman, but when Trumbo awakens, Lil warns him never to set foot in her saloon again. Later, Trumbo wins Lil's saloon at poker. After he resists Coffin's orders to join his gang, Trumbo is beaten and put on a horse, and following his rescue by two Mexicans, he vows revenge. Meanwhile, Lil moves into Coffin's hacienda. Hoping to convince the state's politicians to resist statehood, Coffin hosts a fiesta, while secretly planning an armed seizure of government property. When Trumbo warns an army captain about the seizure, he is reminded that, as a deserter, he could be court-martialed if Coffin proves to be innocent. Trumbo is given ninety days to find a spokesman for California statehood to appear at the Monterey Convention, where he will be elected as the state's advocate, and the issue of statehood will be decided. Trumbo picks Fabian, and he is elected spokesman. Although Lil warns Fabian that he will be killed if he contravenes Coffin, he gives a speech indicting Coffin for trying to make California an "independent empire." One of Coffin's men tries to shoot Fabian, but a loyal farmer takes the bullet. After Trumbo shoots the assailant, Coffin's supporters abandon him, and Lil sees his treachery for the first time. The next morning, at his hacienda, Coffin asks a padre to marry him and Lil, but she has fled to warn Fabian. She is too late, however, as Fabian is killed in his vineyard by Coffin's gang before Trumbo and his posse arrive. At the hacienda, Trumbo finds Coffin hallucinating that the slaves on his ship have freed themselves and are about to kill him. Lil shoots Coffin and saves Trumbo. Later, they visit Fabian's grave, where Trumbo tells Lil that he will return to the army, and she promises she will wait for him. 

Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: A John Farrow Production
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Director: John Farrow (Dir)
  Herbert Coleman (Asst dir)
  Joe Keller (Asst dir)
  Roy Kreuger (Asst dir)
  Mickey Moore (2d asst dir)
  Jim Rosenberger (2d asst dir)
Producer: Seton I. Miller (Prod)
Writer: Frank Butler (Scr)
  Theodore Strauss (Scr)
  Boris Ingster (Story)
Photography: Ray Rennahan (Dir of photog)
  Arch Dalzell (2d cam)
Art Direction: Hans Dreier (Art dir)
  Roland Anderson (Art dir)
Film Editor: Eda Warren (Ed supv)
Set Decoration: Sam Comer (Set dec)
  Ray Moyer (Set dec)
Costumes: Edith Head (Women's cost)
  Gile Steele (Men's cost)
Music: Victor Young (Mus score)
  Ken Lane (Vocal arr)
  Phil Boutelje (Mus assoc)
Sound: Stanley Cooley (Sd rec)
  John Cope (Sd rec)
  Philip G. Wisdom (Sd mixer)
Special Effects: Gordon Jennings (Spec photog eff)
  Devereux Jennings (Asst spec photog eff, Miniatures)
  Paul Lerpae (Asst spec optical eff)
Make Up: Wally Westmore (Makeup supv)
Production Misc: Dr. John Walton Caughey (Tech adv)
  Lorne Holmes (Gardener)
  Joseph Youngerman (Loc scout and prod aide to John Farrow)
  Helen Gladys Percey (Research dir)
  Elvira Smith (Research asst)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor col consultant)
  Robert Brower (Assoc)
Country: United States

Songs: "Lily-I-Lay-De-O," "I Shoulda Stood in Massachusetts," "Said I to My Heart," "Carmela," "Gold Rush" and "California or Bust," music by Earl Robinson, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg.
Composer: E. Y. Harburg
  Earl Robinson

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Paramount Pictures, Inc. 21/2/1947 dd/mm/yyyy LP860 Yes

PCA NO: 11220
Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Western
  Western
Sub-Genre: with songs
  Historical
 
Subjects (Major): California--History--1846-1850
  Gold rushes
  Megalomania
  Ostracism
  Political corruption
  Revenge
  Settlers
  Statehood (American politics)
 
Subjects (Minor): Desertion, Military
  False accusations
  Farmers
  Fights
  Gamblers
  Hallucinations
  Irish Americans
  Mexicans
  Monterey (CA)
  Murder
  Poker (Game)
  Romantic rivalry
  Saloon keepers
  Self-sacrifice
  Slave traders
  Vineyards
  Wagon trains
  Whips and whippings

Note: According to HR pre-production news items, screenwriter Albert Hackett was originally scheduled to direct and write this film, but was later replaced. Hackett remained a screenwriter and never did direct a feature film. In Jun and Jul 1945, Alan Ladd and Betty Hutton were scheduled to star in the film. By Sep 1945, Hutton had declined the role in order to go on her honeymoon. Ladd was suspended by Paramount as of 22 Aug 1945 for refusing to report for preparatory work on the film after studio heads refused him more money. By early Nov 1945, Ladd and the studio settled their dispute, but Ray Milland had already been put into the film. HR also reported that Victor McLaglen was slated for a role as a "heavy" in this film.
       Portions of California were shot in Flagstaff and Cameron, AZ, at the Iverson Ranch near Chatsworth, CA, and in Calabasas, CA. As reported in HR on 1 Mar 1946, scenic California locations were shot in early Mar 1946 for scenes illustrating the lyrics of introductory music for montages in the film. Among the montage locations were: the Monterey coastline, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, highway scenes of California redwood forests, the San Juan Capistrano Mission, orange groves at San Bernardino, wild flowers near Bakersfield, the snow-capped mountains of Mount Whitney, San Jacinto and Mount Baldy, peach and apple orchards at Santa Clara and Santa Rosa, and vegetable fields at Bakersfield and in the Imperial Valley. According to an article in the NYT on 13 Jan 1946, Paramount recreated a vineyard at Brent's Crags, CA. According to NYT , vintage Conestoga wagons were used in the film. According to Par News , at the advice of Dr. John Walton Caughey, UCLA history professor, no white-faced Hereford cattle were used in the film because they were not bred in the United States until after the 1840s. The amethyst tiara and necklace worn by Barbara Stanwyck in the film were heirlooms of director John Farrow.
       According to a 22 Mar 1946 HR news item, because 1946 marked the centennial of the United States' seizure of California from Mexico, Farrow arranged an advance showing of this film in Sacramento for California Governor Earl Warren, heads of the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West, and other state leaders. The date of the actual preview was not found, but on 27 Jan 1947, DV reported that California historical societies were angered that Paramount had held the film's premiere in New York (on 14 Jan 1947), particularly because California was preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of gold in Northern California and its adoption into statehood. Paramount reportedly held a special premiere in Monterey, CA two weeks after the New York premiere in response to the protest. Ray Milland and Lizabeth Scott appeared in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of California on 30 Jan 1950. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   21 Dec 1946.   
Daily Variety   16 Dec 46   pp. 3, 14
Daily Variety   23 Jan 1947.   
Daily Variety   27 Jan 1947.   
Film Daily   19 Dec 46   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Jan 1945.   
Hollywood Reporter   23 Aug 45   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Aug 1945.   
Hollywood Reporter   19 Sep 45   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Oct 45   p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Nov 45   p. 1, 3
Hollywood Reporter   15 Nov 45   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Nov 45   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Jan 46   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Jan 46   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Feb 46   p. 13, 24
Hollywood Reporter   1 Mar 46   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Mar 46   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Dec 46   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jan 47   p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   21 Dec 46   p. 3373.
New York Times   30 Sep 1945.   
New York Times   13 Jan 1946.   
New York Times   15 Jan 47   p. 31.
Variety   18 Dec 46   p. 14.

Display Movie Summary
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.
 
Advanced Search
Join us for the DWW Open House
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film

© 2014 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.