AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Shining Hour
Director: Frank Borzage (Dir)
Release Date:   18 Nov 1938
Production Date:   22 Aug--3 Oct 1938
Duration (in mins):   75-76
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Joan Crawford (Olivia [Maggie] Riley)  
    Margaret Sullavan (Judy Linden)  
    Melvyn Douglas (Henry Linden)  
    Robert Young (David Linden)  
    Fay Bainter (Hannah Linden)  
    Allyn Joslyn (Roger Q. Franklin)  
    Hattie McDaniel (Belvedere)  
    Oscar O'Shea (Charlie Collins)  
    Frank Albertson (Benny Collins)  
    Harry Barris (Bertie)  
    Tony De Marco (Van Stillman, Olivia's dance partner)  
    Claire Owen (Stewardess)  
    Jimmy Conlin (Man on plane)  
    Granville Bates (Man on plane)  
    Roger Converse (Clerk)  
    Ralph Bushman (Doorman)  
    Frank Puglia (Headwaiter)  
    George Chandler (Press agent)  
    Buddy Messinger (Elevator boy)  
    Charles Coleman (Butler)  
    Edwin Stanley (Minister)  
    E. Allyn Warren (Leonard)  
    Grace Hayle (Mrs. Briggs)  
    Jacques Vanaire (Waiter)  
    Cyril Ring (Candid cameraman)  
    Bess Flowers (Nurse)  
    Grace Goodall (Mrs. Smart)  
    Jack Raymond (Farmer)  
    Sarah Edwards    

Summary: Henry Linden, a wealthy farmer from Wisconsin, has fallen in love with New York City nightclub entertainer Olivia Riley and wants to marry her. Although Olivia is not in love with Henry, she is lonely and fond of him, so she agrees to become his wife and move to his family's Wisconsin farm. Meanwhile, Henry's brother David, who has never met Olivia, goes to New York to try and stop the marriage, but when he sees her, he immediately becomes very attracted to her. She is also attracted to the moody David, but, for Henry's sake, neither express their feelings and she soon weds Henry. At the farm, David's wife Judy, a sweet, uncomplicated woman who loves her husband very much, is kind to Olivia, but Hannah, David and Henry's possessive older sister, is cold to her new sister-in-law. Hannah's feelings of animosity toward Olivia soon cause strains on the family, as does the growing attraction between David and Olivia. To alleviate the strain of living under the same roof with the rest of the family, Olivia and Henry build a new house close by. Building the new house seems to help Olivia, but soon David approaches her and tells her that he loves her. Olivia, who is still attracted to David, feels disloyal to Henry as well as to Judy, who has become her closest friend, and begins to think that she should leave. At a house-warming party for Olivia and Henry, Hannah makes snide, hurtful remarks to Olivia, and Benny Collins, a hired hand who is also attracted to Olivia, makes a pass at her and is knocked down by David. Later, Olivia tells Henry that she wants to leave and, though he does not completely know why, he agrees that they should travel for a while. When Henry goes to tell Hannah, she angrily accuses him of being blind to his wife's true character, and he tells her that it is she who is forcing them to leave. Just then, Benny rushes in to tell them that Henry and Olivia's new house is in flames. While the family tries to stop the fire, Judy, who has suspected that the more worldly David is in love with Olivia, rushes into the burning house. As the structure collapses, Olivia runs into the house and saves Judy. Though Olivia's burns are minor, Judy is very seriously burned in the blaze. Guilt-ridden over Judy's attempted sacrifice, David finally realizes that he has loved his wife all along. After Olivia tells him to go to her bedside, he finds Judy's face bandaged, but her eyes show him that she forgives him. Now realizing that she does not love David, Olivia decides that she must leave the farm and will not listen to Henry when he tries to convince her to stay. Hannah, however, whom Henry knows set the fire, tells her brother that she was wrong about Olivia and begs him to either bring her back or go with her. After listening to her advice, Henry goes after Olivia and they drive away from the farm together, in the hope of finding a new life. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's, Inc.)
Production Text: A Frank Borzage Production
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Frank Borzage (Dir)
  Lew Borzage (Asst dir)
Producer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Prod)
Writer: Jane Murfin (Scr)
  Ogden Nash (Scr)
Photography: George Folsey (Photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Paul Groesse (Art dir assoc)
Film Editor: Frank E. Hull (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
Costumes: Adrian (Gowns)
  Dolly Tree (Ward)
Music: Franz Waxman (Mus score)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Dance: Mr. De Marco (The dance performed by Miss Crawford and Mr. De Marco was arranged by)
Make Up: Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles)
Country: United States

Music: Waltz in C Sharp Minor, op. 64, no. 2 by Frédéric Chopin.
Composer: Frédéric Chopin
Source Text: Based on the play The Shining Hour by Keith Winter (New York, 13 Feb 1934).
Authors: Keith Winter

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 14/11/1938 dd/mm/yyyy LP 8440 Yes

PCA NO: 4770
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Domestic
Subjects (Major): Dancers
  Family relationships
  Unrequited love
Subjects (Minor): Arson
  City-country contrast
  False accusations

Note: According to a news item in HR , M-G-M had been planning to make this film in 1935 with Norma Shearer as the star. The MPH review notes that this was the first time that Joan Crawford had danced on the screen since 1933's Dancing Lady (see above). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   9 Nov 38   p. 3.
Film Daily   28 Nov 38   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Nov 35   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Dec 37   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Aug 38   p. 2, 8
Hollywood Reporter   22 Aug 38   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Nov 38   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   21 Nov 38   p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald   15 Oct 38   p. 27.
Motion Picture Herald   19 Nov 38   p. 40.
New York Times   20 Jan 38   p. 15.
Variety   16 Nov 38   p. 15.

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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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