AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Holy Matrimony
Alternate Title: Indian Summer
Director: John M. Stahl (Dir)
Release Date:   27 Aug 1943
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 26 Aug 1943
Production Date:   5 Apr--late May 1943
Duration (in mins):   87
Duration (in feet):   7,862
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Monty Woolley (Priam Farll, also known as Henry Leek)  
    Gracie Fields (Alice Challice)  
    Laird Cregar (Clive Oxford)  
    Una O'Connor (Sarah Leek)  
    Alan Mowbray (Pennington)  
    Melville Cooper (Dr. Caswell)  
    Franklin Pangborn (Duncan Farll)  
    Ethel Griffies (Lady Vale)  
    Eric Blore (Henry Leek)  
    George Zucco (Crepitude)  
    Fritz Feld (First critic)  
    Montagu Love (Judge)  
    Richard Fraser (John Leek)  
    Edwin Maxwell (King Edward VII)  
    Whitner Bissell (Matthew Leek)  
    Geoffrey Steele (Harry Leek)  
    Leyland Hodgson (Solicitor)  
    William Austin (Second critic)  
    Lumsden Hare (Lady Vale's footman)  
    Thomas Louden (Court clerk)  
    Ian Wolfe (Stawley)  
    Milton Parsons (Clerk)  
    Alec Craig (Aylmer)  
    Yorke Sherwood (Cabby)  
    Billy Bevan (Cabby)  
    Leslie Denison (Usher)  
    Colin Hunter (Equerry)  
    Charles Knight (Organist)  
    Barbara Denny (Secretary)  
    Arthur Gould-Porter (Hat store clerk)  
    Eric Wilton (Captain of waiters)  
    John Rogers (Lounger)  
    Gabriel Canzona (Man with monkey)  
    Tom Stevenson (Hubert the postman)  
    Charles Irwin (Constable)  
    Edward Cooper (Constable)  
    Keith Hitchcock (Constable)  
    Mary Field (Oxford's secretary)  
    David Thursby (Process server)  
    Bob Stephenson (Bobbie)  
    Frank Hagney (Bobbie)  
    Helena Grant (Housekeeper)  
    Dorothy Lloyd (Parrot voice imitator)  
    Guy Kingsford (Young policeman)  
    Matthew Boulton (Sergeant)  
    Olaf Hytten (Cockney)  
    Emerson Fisher-Smith (Cockney)  
    Colin Campbell (Researcher)  
    Tudor Williams (Canon)  
    Bobbie Hale (News vendor)  
    Marten Lamont    
    Jimmy Aubrey    
    Charles Hall    
    Cyril Delevanti    
    Denis Green    

Summary: In 1905, famed English painter Priam Farll, who abhors society and has lived as a recluse in the British East Indies for twenty-five years, receives a summons to return to England to receive a knighthood. Grumbling all the way, Priam travels to England accompanied by his devoted valet, Henry Leek. Henry falls ill during the journey, and Priam sends for a doctor upon their arrival. Henry dies from pneumonia, and Priam, eager to avoid the knighthood ceremony, does not correct the doctor when he assumes that Henry was Priam, and that Priam is the valet. The doctor puts Priam's name on the death certificate, and soon Priam watches as his cousin, Duncan Farll, leads the mourners at his memorial service. Priam's bemusement turns to chagrin, however, when King Edward VII appears and announces that the artist will be buried at Westminster Abbey. Angry at having cheated himself out of this honor, Priam attends the funeral and creates such a ruckus that he is thrown out of the abbey. As two policemen are questioning him outside, Priam is rescued by assertive Alice Challice, who tells them that he is Henry Leek. Priam is amazed that Alice knows about Henry and learns that Henry had been corresponding with her after obtaining her address from a matrimonial bureau and had sent her a picture of himself with Priam. Although aware that Alice has mistaken him for Henry, Priam again does not identify himself. Soothed by Alice's stability and devotion, Priam soon marries her, and the couple settle down to quiet domestic happiness in Putney. Priam continues to paint, although he keeps his art supplies hidden to avoid arousing Alice's suspicions. Priam and Alice's contentment is disturbed by the sudden appearance of Sarah Leek and her three grown sons, John, Matthew and Harry. Sarah claims to be Henry's first wife, whom he deserted many years before, but Alice gets rid of her by insinuating that Priam is insane, and that the scandal that would result from Sarah's allegations would ruin the boys's seminary careers. Later, trouble again presents itself when the couple are short of money and Alice cannot meet that year's mortgage payment. Wanting to help, Priam finally confesses his real identity to Alice and shows her his paintings, which he says can be sold for large sums. Alice, however, thinks that the strain of worry has "confused" Priam and gently dissuades him from persisting with his assertions. When she learns that a picture framer will pay £15 for Priam's paintings, however, she sells them without Priam's knowledge. Their life resumes its quiet pace until a year later, when Lady Vale, who has been buying Priam's latest paintings from a prestigious art gallery run by Clive Oxford, discovers that they could only have been painted since Priam's supposed death. She brings a suit against Oxford, alleging that he fraudulently sold the paintings as authentic Priam Farlls. Oxford, who has met Priam and gotten him to confess the truth, wants Priam to testify on his behalf, but Priam is angered by the situtation, as Oxford has been making a huge profit on the paintings. Alice, who now believes her husband, fears that the attention will destroy their marriage, and Priam determines not to help either Lady Vale or Oxford with his testimony. When Sarah appears in court and states that Priam is her husband, however, Alice asserts herself once again. Alice forces Priam to show two moles on his collarbone, thereby proving that he is Priam Farll and not Henry Leek. After the case is settled, Priam and Alice move to a remote jungle, where they recreate their Putney home and return to their ordinary, happy domestic life. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: John M. Stahl (Dir)
  William Eckhardt (Asst dir)
  Nunnally Johnson (Fill-In dir)
  Irving Pichel (Fill-In dir)
Producer: William Goetz (Exec prod)
  Nunnally Johnson (Prod)
Writer: Nunnally Johnson (Wrt for the screen by)
Photography: Lucien Ballard (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: James Basevi (Art dir)
  Russell Spencer (Art dir)
Film Editor: James B. Clark (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
  Paul S. Fox (Assoc)
Costumes: Renè Hubert (Cost)
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge (Mus)
  Emil Newman (Mus dir)
Sound: E. Clayton Ward (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Special Effects: Fred Sersen (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Guy Pearce (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Harry Brand (Dir of pub)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the novel Buried Alive by Arnold Bennett (London, 1908).
Authors: Arnold Bennett

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 27/8/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12528

PCA NO: 9319
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Comedy
 
Subjects (Major): Artists
  Impersonation and imposture
  Marriage
  Mistaken identity
  Recluses
 
Subjects (Minor): Art dealers
  Beards
  Bigamy
  Birthmarks
  Cousins
  East Indies
  Edward VII, King of England, 1841-1910
  Evidence
  Fraud
  Funerals
  Lawsuits
  London (England)
  Long-lost relatives
  Recognition
  Trials
  Valets
  Westminster Abbey (London, England)

Note: The working titles of this film were Buried Alive and Indian Summer . Arnold Bennett used his book as the basis for a play entitled The Great Adventure (Glasgow, Scotland, 18 Sep 1911). Nunnally Johnson's onscreen credit reads "Produced and Written for the Screen by Nunnally Johnson." According to HR news items, Johnson and Irving Pichel both served as fill-in directors while John Stahl was ill. Although a HR news item stated that, "in response to an avalanche of fanmail from this country and England," Gracie Fields would sing "She Was Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage" and "The Biggest Aspidistra in the World" in the film, the numbers were not included in the picture. Holy Matrimony marked Fields's first leading role in a picture filmed in the United States. Actor Whit Bissell, who is listed as Whitner Bissell in reviews, made his screen-acting debut in the picture, which also marked the last screen appearance of actor Montagu Love, who died shortly after completing his work in the film. The picture was selected as one of the ten best films of 1943 by the National Board of Review. Johnson's screenplay received an Academy Award nomination.
       Bennett's novel and play were also the basis for a 1915 British film entitled The Great Adventure , directed by Larry Trimble and starring Henry Ainley and Esme Hubbard; the 1921 Whitman Bennett film The Great Adventure , directed by Kenneth Webb and starring Lionel Barrymore and Doris Rankin (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-20 ; F2.2216); and the 1934 Eddie Dowling Pictures production His Double Life , directed by Arthur Hopkins and starring Roland Young and Lillian Gish (see AFI Catalog of Feature Film, 1931-40 ; F3.1924). In the 1934 version, Montagu Love played "Priam's" cousin "Duncan." On 10 May 1954, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a version of the story starring Charles Laughton and Fay Bainter. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   28 Aug 1943.   
Daily Variety   23 Aug 43   pp. 3-4.
Film Daily   24 Aug 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Feb 43   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Apr 43   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Apr 43   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Apr 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   7 May 43   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   18 May 1943 p. 2.   
Hollywood Reporter   21 May 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Aug 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Aug 43   pp. 4-5.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Sep 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Dec 43   p. 1, 6
Motion Picture Daily   23 Aug 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald   28 Aug 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   28 Aug 43   pp. 1505-06.
New York Herald Tribune   12 Sep 1943.   
New York Times   16 Sep 43   p. 25.
Variety   25 Aug 43   p. 10.

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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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