AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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John Loves Mary
Director: David Butler (Dir)
Release Date:   19 Feb 1949
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 4 Feb 1949
Production Date:   mid-Jan--late Feb 1948
Duration (in mins):   96 or 98
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Cast:   Ronald Reagan (John Lawrence)  
    Jack Carson (Fred Taylor)  
    Wayne Morris (Lieut. Victor O'Leary)  
    Edward Arnold (Senator James McKinley)  
    Virginia Field (Lilly Herbish)  
    Katherine Alexander (Phyllis McKinley)  
    Paul Harvey (General Biddle)  
    Ernest Cossart (Oscar Dugan)  
  And introducing Patricia Neal (Mary McKinley)  
    Irving Bacon (Beachwood)  
    George Hickman (Soldier)  
    Larry Rio (Cab driver)  
    Nino Pipitone (Raoul)  
    Rodney Bell (Waiter)  
    Creighton Hale (Waiter)  
    Rudy Friml (Orchestra leader)  
    Ray Montgomery (Elevator man)  
    Jack Mower (Bartender)  
    Douglas Kennedy (Colonel)  
    Russell Arms (Corporal)  
    Philo McCullough (Desk clerk)  

Summary: Returning from four years of war, soldier John Lawrence telephones his girl friend Mary McKinley to announce that he will be with her in New York City that afternoon. Mary buys champagne and caviar and ecstatically waits for his arrival. Before then, Fred Taylor, who saved John's life during the war, appears at Mary's with a suit of civilian clothes for him. Fred has been a civilian for the past two years, so when John finally arrives, the two friends talk over old times. When Mary leaves the room, John tells Fred that while he was in London, he discovered that Fred's English girl friend, Lilly Herbish, whom he thought had been killed in the blitz, is still alive. John explains that because of the immigrant quota, Lilly would not have been able to come to the United States for several years, but as a soldier's wife, she could immigrate immediately, so, wanting to help the man who saved his life, John married her. Although Fred appears to be more disturbed than grateful, John continues to outline his plan for Fred and Lilly to proceed to Reno, where Lilly will divorce him and marry Fred. After Fred leaves, John starts to carefully break the news to Mary, but is interrupted by the unexpected return of her parents, Senator James McKinley and his wife Phyllis. John asks McKinley for permission to marry Mary, but is nonplussed when the senator insists that they hold the wedding immediately. Later, a bemused Fred returns to the McKinley apartment, and once again, John starts to explain the situation, but before he can complete his story, he inadvertently learns that Fred is married, and his wife is expecting a baby. Privately, John and Fred then hatch a plot that will allow John to postpone his marriage to Mary until he can be divorced from Lilly. Fred asks their former lieutenant, Victor O'Leary, who is now working as a theater usher, to put on his old uniform and pretend to order John to proceed to Nevada for sixty days to finish some Army business. O'Leary accepts a payment of fifty dollars to cooperate with the plan. He then leeringly tells Fred that he too had dated Lilly but devised a scheme to avoid marrying her. The next day, at the McKinley apartment, O'Leary carries out his part of the plan, but Mary is so distraught at the thought of postponing the wedding that she insists that her father get John released from his assignment. When John protests that he will not accept special favors, Mary's feelings are hurt and she leaves the apartment with her parents. While they are gone, Lilly arrives and soon learns that Fred is already married. Meanwhile, Mary has asked General Biddle to act on John's behalf. When John again refuses to relinquish his assignment, Mary is convinced that he does not love her and breaks their engagement. Finally, after more complications, John blurts out the entire story. Lilly reveals that she had married O'Leary, but received a letter that purported to be from his mother explaining that he had been killed. She is reunited with an unwilling O'Leary, and John, whose marriage to Lilly turns out to be not legal, is free to marry Mary. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: David Butler (Dir)
  Herschel Daugherty (Dial dir)
  Phil Quinn (Asst dir)
  Mel Dellar (2d asst dir)
Producer: Jerry Wald (Prod)
Writer: Phoebe Ephron (Scr)
  Henry Ephron (Scr)
Photography: Peverell Marley (Dir of photog)
  Ray Ramsey (2d cam)
  Larry Cairns (Asst cam)
  Ralph Owen (Gaffer)
  Gene Richee (Stills)
Art Direction: Robert Haas (Art dir)
  G. W. Berntsen (Props)
  Harry Goldman (Props)
Film Editor: Irene Morra (Film ed)
Set Decoration: William Kuehl (Set dec)
Costumes: Milo Anderson (Ward)
  Henry Field (Men's ward)
  Martha Bunch (Ladies' ward)
Music: Leonid Raab (Orch arr)
  David Buttolph (Mus)
Sound: Francis J. Scheid (Sd)
Special Effects: William McGann (Spec eff dir)
  Robert Burks (Spec eff)
Make Up: Perc Westmore (Makeup artist)
  Bill Cooley (Makeup)
  Ray Foreman (Hair)
Production Misc: Eric Stacey (Unit mgr)
  Alma Young (Scr supv)
  William Steudeman (Best boy)
  Warren Yaple (Grip)
Country: United States

Music: "Someone to Watch Over Me," music by George Gershwin.
Composer: George Gershwin
Source Text: Based on the play John Loves Mary by Norman Krasna (New York, 4 Feb 1947).
Authors: Norman Krasna

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 19/2/1949 dd/mm/yyyy LP2106

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Romantic comedy
 
Subjects (Major): Deception
  Engagements
  Friendship
  Marriage of convenience
  Romance
  Soldiers
 
Subjects (Minor): English
  Family relationships
  Immigrants
  Marriage
  New York City
  Senators
  Ushers

Note: The film's end credits run over pictures of the actors. This film marked the motion picture debut of actress Patricia Neal (1926--2010). A version of this story, starring Ronald Reagan and Patricia Neal, was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on 19 Jun 1950. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   29 Jan 1949.   
Daily Variety   25 Jan 49   p. 3, 11
Film Daily   25 Jan 49   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Feb 1947.   
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jan 48   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Feb 48   p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Jan 49   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Feb 49   p. 10.
Los Angeles Times   6 Mar 1947.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   29 Jan 49   p. 4477-78.
New York Times   5 Feb 49   p. 11.
Variety   1 Jan 49   p. 11.

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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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