AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Blossoms in the Dust
Director: Mervyn LeRoy (Dir)
Release Date:   25 Jul 1941
Premiere Information:   New York premiere: 26 Jun 1941
Production Date:   27 Jan--14 Apr 1941
Duration (in mins):   98
Duration (in feet):   8,940
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Greer Garson (Edna Gladney)  
    Walter Pidgeon (Sam Gladney)  
    Felix Bressart (Dr. Max Bresler)  
    Marsha Hunt (Charlotte [Kahly])  
    Fay Holden (Mrs. Kahly)  
    Samuel S. Hinds (Mr. Kahly)  
    Kathleen Howard (Mrs. Keats)  
    George Lessey (Mr. Keats)  
    William Henry (Allan Keats)  
    Henry O'Neill (Judge)  
    John Eldredge (Damon [Edna's fiancĂ©])  
    Clinton Rosemond (Zeke)  
    Theresa Harris (Cleo)  
    Charlie Arnt (G. Harrington Hedger)  
    Cecil Cunningham (Mrs. Gilworth)  
    Ann Morriss (Mrs. Loring)  
    Richard Nichols (Sammy)  
    Pat Barker (Tony)  
    Marc Lawrence ([Bert] LaVerne)  
    Oscar O'Shea (Dr. West)  
    Clarence Kolb (Senator T. R. Cotton)  
    Edith Evanson (Hilda)  
    Harry Allen (Gus)  
    David Clyde (Frederick)  
    Hope Landin (Olga)  
    Jimmy Spencer (Mr. Dirk)  
    Anne O'Neal (Lena)  
    Nora Perry (Mary)  
    Ann Morrison (Maid)  
    Lotte Palfi (Maid)  
    Dick Rush (Conductor)  
    Buddy Williams (Porter)  
    Edward Keane (Businessman)  
    Henry Roquemore (Businessman)  
    Ferris Taylor (Businessman)  
    Georgia Caine (Secretary)  
    Claire DuBrey (Nurse)  
    Ottola Nesmith (Governess)  
    Joan Barclay (Guest at 1st party)  
    Paul Barrett (Guest at 1st party)  
    Estelle Etterre (Guest at 1st party)  
    Oliver Cross (Guest at 1st party)  
    Cynthia Westlake (Guest at 1st party)  
    Paul Power (Guest at 1st party)  
    Sheila Darcy (Guest at 2d party)  
    Florine McKinney (Guest at 2d party)  
    Dora Clemant (Guest at 2d party)  
    Winifred Nimo (Guest at 2d party)  
    William Dudley (Guest at 2d party)  
    Bryant Washburn Sr. (Guest at 2d party)  
    Anne Wigton (Guest at 2d party)  
    George Harris (Newsboy)  
    Frank Darien (Jones)  
    John Dilson (Auctioneer)  
    Mary MacLaren (Bidder)  
    Sam Ash (Bidder)  
    Art Belasco (Bidder)  
    Emmett Smith (Jasper)  
    Almira Sessions (Mrs. Brown)  
    Ernie Alexander (Mr. Jason)  
    Sidney D'Albrook (Lane)  
    Roger Moore (Notary)  
    Edward Fielding (Judge)  
    Lester Dorr (Court attendant)  
    Emmett Vogan (Mr. Bedlow)  
    Kay Linaker (Mrs. Bedlow)  
    Gertrude Simpson (Matron)  
    Kathryn Sheldon (Matron)  
    Carroll Nye (Mr. Loring)  
    Joseph Crehan (Chairman)  
    Guy Usher (Councilman)  
    Edwin Maxwell (Councilman)  
    William Worthington (Councilman)  
    Davison Clark (Councilman)  
    Janet Shaw (Tess)  
    Tristram Coffin (Mr. Howard)  
    Jane Drummond (Mrs. Howard)  
    Emory Parnell (Senator)  
    Howard Hickman (Senator)  
    Paul Everton (Senator)  
    Purnell Pratt (Senator)  
    Selmer Jackson (Senator)  
    William Wright (Senator)  
    Harry Hayden (Senator)  
    Edward McWade (Darrow)  
    Harry Worth (Rader, shyster lawyer)  
    Roy Gordon (Craig, Edna's lawyer)  
    Douglas Wood (President)  
    Byron Shores (Eldridge)  
    Cy Kendall (Policeman)  
    Fay Helm (Leta Eldridge)  
    Cliff Danielson (Mill worker)  
    John Ince (Mill worker)  
    Ed Peil Sr. (Mill worker)  
    Edward Hearn (Mill worker)  
    Mike Pat Donovan (Mill worker)  
    Art Berry Sr. (Mill worker)  
    Ralph McCullough (Mill worker)  
    Grace Stafford (Molly)  
    Jessie Arnold (Mrs. O'Neill)  
    Willa Pearl Curtis (Sarah)  
    Margaret Bert (Helen)  
    Milton Kibbee (Court clerk)  
    Elliott Sullivan (Note collector)  
    Jasper Weldon (Driver)  
    Harrison Greene (Mr. Piggott)  
    Dell Henderson (Sergeant at arms)  
    Emanuel Turner (Process server)  
    Ethel Wales (Committee woman)  
    Nadine Connor (Soloist in opening credits)  
    Irene Crane (Soloist in opening credits)  
    Carol Coombs (Child)  
    Henry Blair (Child)  
    Sandra Lee Richards (Child)  
    Mary Taylor (Child)  
    Sally Ann Brown (Child)  
    Charles Sargent (Child)  
    Frank Faylen    
    Howard Mitchell    
    Marga Ann Deighton    
    Georgie Cooper    
    Mrs. Gardner Crane    

Summary: In 1906, as the wealthy Kahly family of Wisconsin happily prepare for an engagement party for their daughter Edna and their adopted daughter Charlotte, the girls promise always to remain close and be happy. Edna, who excitedly told her sister that a young man brashly proposed to her at their father's bank, is shocked when the man, Texan Sam Gladney, comes to her engagement party. An associate of Mr. Kahly, Sam is going home to open a flour mill, but tells Edna that they will marry when he returns next year, even though she is engaged to another man. Edna sees him off at the train station, and over the course of the following months, they correspond and become engaged. On the day that Sam returns, Mr. and Mrs. Keats, Charlotte's future in-laws, tell the Kahlys that their son Allan cannot marry her because she was a "nameless" foundling. Although Allan insists that he will never marry anyone else, Charlotte, who had not known that she was illegitimate, kills herself. Two years later, Edna, who has moved to Texas and married Sam, gives birth prematurely to a boy and is told that she can have no more children. On Christmas Day, a few years later, the family is very happy, but tragedy strikes when their little Sammy drowns in a pony cart accident. Edna hides her grief by becoming a society hostess until Sam and Dr. Max Bresler, who attended her at Sammy's birth, help her to realize that she can fulfill herself by caring for other children. She and Sam set up a day nursery for working mothers, which they finance from their own fortune, but when the price of wheat declines, Sam loses his mill and must sell everything. They then move to Fort Worth and Sam works very hard at a mill job while trying in his spare time to develop a new wheat process. On the day that Edna takes his new process to be notarized, she sees some children in a courtroom and discovers that they are orphans, tagged like cattle, and rejected by prospective adoptive parents because they are illegitimate. She brings two children home, one of whom, a baby named Tony, is ill. With very little money, she opens a storefront orphanage called the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society and arranges for adoptions for her charges, making certain parents and children are well suited for each other. When the wife of a city councilman is not given special treatment by Edna, she feels insulted and convinces the council to close the home for zoning violations. The day that Edna loses the home, Sam collapses, and as he dies, he tells her to keep up the fight. Edna then travels throughout Texas, collecting coins in a milk bottle, and eventually she is able to open a large new home. As the years pass, Edna finds good homes for many children, but realizes that she has additional work to do when she receives a donation from a despondent young woman who discovered that she was illegitimate when she applied for a marriage license. Touched by the similarity between this young woman and Charlotte, Enda determines to change the law that brands children for life and fights to have the word "illegitimate" removed from birth certificates. Her bill is championed by Senator T. R. Cotton, and after she makes an impassioned plea before the Texas legislature, it passes into law. On Christmas Eve, Max tells Edna that he has found a good family for Tony, who is now healthy and as close to Edna as her own son. She wants to give up her work and dedicate herself to him, but just as she is about to go away with him, a policeman comes to the door with two orphans and she realizes that she must help them. She then lets Tony go to his new parents, and as the family leaves, she sits with her two new children. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Production Text: A Mervyn LeRoy Production
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Mervyn LeRoy (Dir)
  Walter Strohm (Asst dir)
Producer: Irving Asher (Prod)
Writer: Anita Loos (Scr)
  Ralph Wheelwright (Story)
  Mildred Cram (Scr polish)
  Dorothy Yost (Contr wrt)
  Hugo Butler (Contr wrt)
Photography: Karl Freund (Dir of photog)
  W. Howard Greene (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Urie McCleary (Assoc)
Film Editor: George Boemler (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
Costumes: Adrian (Gowns)
  Gile Steele (Men's cost)
Music: Herbert Stothart (Mus score)
  Earl Brent (Addl mus)
  Daniele Amfitheatrof (Addl mus)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe (Spec eff)
Make Up: Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles)
  Jack Dawn (Makeup created by)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor col consultant)
  Henri Jaffa (Assoc)
Country: United States

Songs: "Lullaby," music and lyrics by Herbert Stothart and Earl Brent.
Composer: Earl Brent
  Herbert Stothart

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 2/7/1941 dd/mm/yyyy LP10607 Yes

PCA NO: 7192
Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Social
 
Subjects (Major): Adoption
  Foundlings
  Edna Gladney
  Illegitimacy
  Mothers and sons
 
Subjects (Minor): African Americans
  Bankers
  Bigotry
  Butlers
  Childlessness
  City councilmen
  Engagements
  Family life
  Financial crisis
  Foster parents
  Good Samaritans
  Marriage
  Mills
  Physicians
  Senators
  Sisters
  Suicide
  Texas
  Texas Children's Home and Aid Society
  Trains
  Widows
  Wisconsin

Note: The opening credits contain the following written dedication: "This is the story of a great woman, and of the great work she is doing for humanity. Her name is Edna Gladney, and she lives in Fort Worth, Texas...." Gladney, who at the time of the film's production was fifty-five, founded the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society of Fort Worth, Texas, and was instrumental in the passage into law of a bill that removed the word "illegitimate" from the birth certificates of children born out-of-wedlock. According to M-G-M publicity materials contained in the AMPAS Library file on the film, Gladney had spent over thirty years of her life placing orphans into good homes, and had placed more than 2,000 children.
       According to news items in HR , Joy West, Charles Ray and Jerry Storm were cast in the film. Ray was not seen in the viewed print and the appearance of West and Storm is unconfirmed. M-G-M publicity also notes that a new six-way microfilm developed by Electrical Research Products, Inc. was used for the first time in the film. The materials also indicate that an Irish setter called "Copper" was to be in the film, but he was not observed in the viewed print. The film earned an Academy Award for Art Direction, which went to Cedric Gibbons and Urie McCleary, as well as Edwin B. Willis who worked on the set decoration. Additional nominations included Best Picture, Best Cinematography (Color) for Karl Freund and W. Howard Green and Best Actress for Greer Garson, her second of six. This picture was one of M-G-M's top money-making films of the year and, according to modern sources, began Garson's rise as one of the biggest stars of the 1940s. Blossoms in the Dust was the first of nine pictures in which Walter Pidgeon co-starred with Garson; the last was Scandal at Scourie in 1952. According to an article on Garson in NYT on 19 Jul 1942, she did not care for Blossoms in the Dust and was quoted as having said, "The screen is neither a platform nor a pulpit." Garson, Pidgeon and Felix Bressart recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 16 Feb 1942. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   Jul 41   p. 326.
Box Office   28 Jun 1941.   
Daily Variety   25 Jun 1941.   
Film Daily   23 Jun 41   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Jan 41   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jan 41   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Jan 41   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Jan 41   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Feb 41   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Mar 41   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Apr 41   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Jun 41   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   28 Jun 1941.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   17 May 41   p. 133.
New York Times   27 Jun 41   p. 14.
New York Times   19 Jul 1942.   
Time   7 Jul 1941.   
Variety   25 Jun 41   p. 16.

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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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