AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Government Girl
Director: Dudley Nichols (Dir)
Release Date:   1944
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 6 Jan 1944
Production Date:   mid-Jun--4 Aug 1943; retakes 11-18 Aug 1943
Duration (in mins):   91, 93-94
Duration (in feet):   8,420
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Cast:   Olivia de Havilland (Elizabeth "Smokey" Allard)  
    Sonny Tufts (Ed Browne)  
    Anne Shirley (May)  
    Jess Barker (Dana McGuire)  
    James Dunn (Sergeant Joe Bates)  
    Paul Stewart (Branch Owens)  
    Agnes Moorehead (Mrs. Adele Wright)  
    Harry Davenport (Senator MacVickers)  
    Una O'Connor (Mrs. Harris)  
    Sig Ruman (His Excellency)  
    Jane Darwell (Miss Trask)  
    George Givot (Count Bodinski)  
    Paul Stanton (C. L. Harvester)  
    Art Smith (Marqueenie)  
    Joan Valerie (Miss MacVickers)  
    Harry Shannon (Mr. Gibson)  
    Emory Parnell (The chief)  
    Ray Walker (Tom Holliday)  
    Russell Huestis (Businessman)  
    Larry Steers (Businessman)  
    James Carlisle (Businessman)  
    Bert Moorhouse (Businessman)  
    Fred Norton (Businessman)  
    Demetrius Alexis (Businessman)  
    Larry Williams (Businessman)  
    Chester Carlisle (Businessman)  
    Harry Denny (Businessman)  
    Tom Costello (Businessman)  
    Ronnie Rondell (Businessman)  
    Charles Meakin (Businessman)  
    Howard Mitchell (Businessman)  
    Norman Mayes (Janitor)  
    Warren Hymer (M. P. )  
    Harry Tenbrook (M. P. )  
    Oliver Cross (Officer)  
    Clive Morgan (Officer)  
    Harold Miller (Naval officer)  
    Major Sam Harris (American general)  
    Cy Ring (Lieutenant commander)  
    Bruce Edwards (F.B.I. agent)  
    Lawrence Tierney (F.B.I. agent)  
    Ralph Dunn (F.B.I. agent)  
    Sam Lufkin (F.B.I. agent)  
    Al Hill (F.B.I. agent)  
    David Newell (F.B.I. agent)  
    George Ford (F.B.I. agent)  
    Edward Fielding (Mr. Benson)  
    Joe Bernard (Workman)  
    John Hamilton (Irate man)  
    Edward Keane (Irate man)  
    George Melford (Irate man)  
    Alex Melesh (Waiter)  
    Frank Moran (Tough sergeant)  
    Chef Milani (Hotel waiter)  
    J. Louis Johnson (Mr. Wright's butler)  
    June Booth (Secretary)  
    David Hughes (Guest)  
    Don Kerr (Bellhop)  
    Ian Wolfe (Hotel clerk)  
    Charles Halton (Clerk)  
    Ivan Simpson (Judge Leonard)  
    Virginia Gardner (Branch's girl)  
    Tom Burton (Reporter)  
    Harry Clay (Reporter)  
    Steve Winston (Reporter)  
    Ralph Linn (Reporter)  
    Josh Milton (Reporter)  
    James Kirkwood (Senator)  
    Fred Fox (Senator)  
    Babe Green (Senator)  
    Frank McClure (Senator)  
    Harry Bailey (Senator)  
    Donald Hall (Senator)  
    Louis Payne (Senator)  
    Wally Dean (Senator)  
    George Riley (Policeman)  
    Marion Murray    
    Shirley O'Hara    
    Daun Kennedy    
    Margaret Landry    
    Mary Halsey    
    Barbara Coleman    
    Barbara Hale    
    Rita Corday    
    Patti Brill    
    J. C. Fowler    

Summary: Ed Browne, an automobile engineer, is summoned to Washington, D. C. to supervise the building of bomber planes for the War Construction Board. On his first night in the city, Ed discovers that there are no vacant hotel rooms until a desk clerk recognizes his picture from the paper and offers him room 2A. While Ed waits in the hotel lobby for his room to be readied, Elizabeth "Smokey" Allard, who had reserved 2A for the wedding of her roommate May to Sergeant Joe Bates, arrives. The desk clerk suggests holding the ceremony in the hotel lobby, and when the nervous groom loses the wedding ring, Smokey borrows a ring from Ed, who assumes that she is the bride. After the wedding, Smokey offers the newlyweds the use of her apartment, but when her landlady calls the M. P.'s, Joe is arrested, leaving behind his borrowed motorcycle. The next morning, Smokey is stopping people on the street to ask if they will drive the motorcycle back to its owner when she sees Ed again. Ed is looking for the War Construction Board, and when Smokey tells him that she works there, he whisks her away on a wild motorcycle ride to the office. There, Smokey is shocked to learn that Ed, the man who has bedeviled her, is her new boss. Ed still thinks that she is married until she explains the situation to him. Smokey is dating Dana McGuire, the ambitious counsel to Senator MacVickers. When Dana stands up Smokey for a dinner with the senator and his daughter, reporter Branch Owens, the head of the Washington Bureau, warns her that Dana is "looking for a victim to make a name for himself." The next day at the office, when Ed announces his plan to build new inland factories that will double the production capacity, Smokey cautions him to follow government procedures. Ed, an independent businessman who would rather be in the military than a "dollar a year man," chafes at the government red tape and consequently ignores Smokey's warning. Six months later, Ed has achieved his goal but earned the ill will of C. L. Harvester, who has lost his allocation of steel to Ed. When Harvester confronts Ed about stealing material that was earmarked for his project, Ed insults him and calls him an obstructionist. Threatening a Senate investigation, Harvester takes his information to Dana, Senator MacVickers and Washington socialite and power broker Adele Wright. Meanwhile, Ed realizes that he has fallen in love with Smokey, but is too late, as Dana has already proposed to her. One night, while Smokey is typing her letter of resignation at the office, she hears Ed and Branch arguing. When Branch then accuses Smokey of providing Dana with evidence against her boss, she steals the incriminating files and takes them home to burn them. At their apartment, May accuses Smokey of being in love with Ed when a government agent from May's department knocks on their door and asks their help in exposing Count Bodinski, a playboy, as a spy. Agreeing to help, the two women join Bodinski for dinner at his apartment that night. While the agents listen in the next room, Bodinski offers the two money for information and is subsequently arrested. The next day at the hearing, Dana is questioning Ed when Smokey enters the courtroom and returns the stolen files. She then testifies that her boss was only serving his country, and as the sound of American bombers roar overhead, she names the enemy cities that will soon be their targets. Running from the courtroom in tears, Smokey returns home, where Ed joins her. After telling her that the hearing has been canceled, he proposes and they embrace. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Dudley Nichols (Dir)
  J. D. Starkey (Asst dir)
Producer: Dudley Nichols (Prod)
  Edward Donahoe (Assoc prod)
Writer: Dudley Nichols (Scr)
  Budd Schulberg (Adpt)
Photography: Frank Redman (Dir of photog)
  Russell Metty (Background photog)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
Film Editor: Roland Gross (Ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
  Al Fields (Set dec)
Costumes: Edward Stevenson (Gowns)
Music: C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
  Leigh Harline (Mus)
Sound: Roy Meadows (Rec)
  James G. Stewart (Re-rec)
Special Effects: Vernon L. Walker (Spec eff)
Production Misc: Lynn Shores (Unit dir)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the short story "Government Girl" by Adela Rogers St. John in Ladies Home Journal (Jan 1943).
Authors: Adela Rogers St. John

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 18/11/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12445 Yes

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

 
Genre: Comedy
Sub-Genre: Homefront
 
Subjects (Major): Businessmen
  Employer-employee relations
  Romantic rivalry
  Secretaries
  United States. War Department
  Washington (D.C.)
 
Subjects (Minor): Bureaucracy
  Government officials
  Housing shortages
  Hotels
  Lawyers
  Proposals (Marital)
  Reporters
  Senators
  Spies
  United States. Congress. Senate
  Weddings

Note: News items in HR yield the following information about the production: Joseph Cotten was originally considered for the male lead and Gladys George was slated to play "Mrs. Wright." David Hempstead was initially scheduled to produce the film, but when he had to bow out of the project because of scheduling conflicts, Dudley Nichols stepped in. Russell Metty filmed backgrounds in Washington, D.C. This was writer Nichols first project as director and producer, and the first associate producer task for Edward Donahoe, a former assistant director at RKO. A NYT article notes that Sonny Tufts, who was borrowed from Paramount to star in this film, benefited from his "4F" (physically unfit) military status as it boosted him to stardom while other leading men went to war. Modern sources add that Olivia De Havilland did not want to appear in this picture, but was forced to do so by an arrangement in which Warner Bros. loaned her to David O. Selznick, who then loaned her to RKO. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   6 Nov 1943.   
Daily Variety   4 Nov 43   p. 3.
Film Daily   5 Nov 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   7 May 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   12 May 43   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   19 May 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jun 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Jun 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jul 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jul 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Aug 43   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Nov 43   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   6 Nov 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   10 Jul 43   p. 1416.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   6 Nov 43   p. 1614.
New York Times   5 Sep 1943.   
New York Times   7 Jan 44   p. 13.
Variety   10 Nov 43   p. 35.

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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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