AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Scarf
Alternate Title: The Dungeon
Director: E. A. Dupont (Dir)
Release Date:   6 Apr 1951
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: week of 1 Jun 1951
Production Date:   Apr 1950 at Motion Picture Center Studios
Duration (in mins):   87-88, 91 or 93
Duration (in feet):   7,906
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   John Ireland (John Howard Barrington)  
    Mercedes McCambridge (Connie Carter)  
    James Barton (Ezra Thompson)  
    Emlyn Williams (Dr. David Dunbar)  
    Lloyd Gough (Dr. Gordon)  
    Basil Ruysdael (Cyrus Barrington)  
    David Wolfe (Level Louie)  
    Harry Shannon (Warden Anderson)  
    Dave McMahon (State trooper)  
    Chubby Johnson (Sam)  
    Frank Jenks (Tom)  
    Emmett Lynn (Jack, waiter)  
    Dick Wessel (Sid)  
    Frank Jaquet (Sheriff)  
    John Merrick (Deputy)  
    Lyle Talbot (Detective)  
    King Donovan (Tiger)  
    O. Z. Whitehead (Woopie)  
    Frank Richards (Gargantua)  
    Sue Casey (Receptionist)  

Summary: John Howard Barrington escapes from Alcanta, a state asylum for the criminally insane, and exhaustedly winds his way through the desert as the police chase him. He finally collapses at a turkey farm and is taken in by its owner, desert hermit Ezra Thompson. When Ezra holds John at gunpoint and warns the escapee that the police will certainly catch up with him, John attempts to take the gun from him but fails. Still friendly despite the threat of violence, Ezra listens as John expounds that insanity is a lack of knowledge between right and wrong in a particular act. Ezra asks John what his particular act was but John cannot remember. John does recount an incident at the hospital in which he witnessed a brutal strangling of another prisoner but did not help the victim. Alcanta's Warden Anderson and other officers then arrive at the ranch and Ezra hides John. Anderson explains the history of the escapee to the group, and John overhears it in the next room. John, Anderson states, is a killer and his victim was Rose Marie, his girl friend at the time. John, who was finishing a law degree, would have been given the death penalty but his loss of memory secured his immunity. Anderson tells Ezra that John does not stand a chance of escaping in the barren desert with a $200 reward on his head. After Anderson and the others leave, John emerges, wanting to know why Ezra did not turn him in. Ezra explains that he prefers the company of nature and books, and distrusting civilization, decided to give John the benefit of the doubt. Later, John's foster father, the wealthy Cyrus Barrington, and the English family psychiatrist, Dr. David Dunbar, visit Anderson and Alcanta's psychiatrist Dr. Gordon at the hospital to request that the reward be increased to $5,000. During the visit, Gordon lets out a laugh and the effeminate David becomes visibly perturbed and states that he is "allergic to irrelevant laughter." Back at the ranch, Ezra sends John, who has been working at the ranch for three weeks, into town to fetch feed. On his way John picks up hitchhiker Connie Carter, a singing waitress heading back to Level Louie's, a Los Angeles bar. Bored with looking at the sky and John's silence, Connie, whose "morals have no zipper," asks for some action during a roadside break, but John replies that he is satisfied because to him the desert is "an image of freedom." When Connie wraps a scarf around her neck, John recognizes it and adamantly asks where she got it but she refuses to answer. That evening John drops Connie at the Silver Saddle bar and later returns to find her cornered in a booth by two drunken locals. A brawl between the three men ensues but John disappears when the sheriff arrives. At the bus station Connie spots the $5,000 reward poster and contemplates going to the sheriff but, recalling John's kindness, decides to take the bus instead. At the ranch, John tells Ezra that he remembers Rose Marie was strangled with a scarf, a gift from his best friend David. Determined to find the next key to the puzzle, John seeks Connie out at Level Louie's but Connie runs him off, saying she knows about his insanity and the murder. Disconsolate but determined, John goes to David's office and David admits to him that he witnessed the murder but was unable to stop John because the shock crippled him. Barrington and the police, having been secretly contacted by David, show up and take John away. Convinced of John's innocence, Ezra and Gordon arrive at Level Louie's and enlist Connie's help to save John. Gordon then goes to David's office and tells him that "shock reaction" does not exist and, furthermore, John's reaction to the prison murder can be attributed to his unconsciously realizing it was a repeat of the previous event. Gordon tells David he knows that David suffered mental illness while serving in the English Army, and accuses him of being the killer, explaining that John was unable to react the first time because he was only partially conscious due to a severe blow to the head. After Gordon leaves the office abruptly, David turns to find Connie by the window wearing the duplicate scarf. Connie begins to laugh, upsetting David. He tells her that John and Rose Marie laughed behind his back that way and recounts how he killed Rose Marie in a fit of pique. The police, Gordon, John and Ezra are waiting at the door, and just as David is about to choke Connie, John comes to her rescue. Later at Level Louie's, John listens to Connie sing then, grateful for his freedom, leaves with Ezra to return to the turkey ranch, where it is "bound and bare" and spread with "lone and level sand." 

Production Company: Gloria Productions, Inc.  
Production Text: A Gloria Film Production
Joseph Justman
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: E. A. Dupont (Dir)
  Kathryn Becker (Dial dir)
  Emmett Emerson (Asst dir)
  Gene Farrell (Asst dir)
Producer: Joseph Justman (Pres)
  Anthony Z. Landi (Assoc prod)
  I. G. Goldsmith (Prod)
Writer: E. A. Dupont (Scr)
  I. G. Goldsmith (Based on a story by)
  Edwin Rolfe (Based on a story by)
Photography: Frank Planer (Dir of photog)
  Don C. Stott (Chief set elec)
  Morris Rosen (Grip)
  David Ragin (Cam op)
  Walter Bluemel (Asst cam)
  Gene Farrell (Asst cam)
  Al St. Hilaire (Still photog)
Art Direction: Rudolph Sternad (Prod des)
Film Editor: Joseph Gluck (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edward G. Boyle (Set dec)
  Mike Gordon (Prop master)
  Al Hersh (Asst prop master)
Costumes: Joseph King (Ward supv)
  Florence Hayes (Woman's wardrobe)
Music: Herschel Burke Gilbert (Mus)
  Joseph Mullendore (Orch)
  Walter Sheets (Orch)
Sound: Fred J. Lau (Sd rec)
  Mac Dalgleish (Sd rec)
  Hugh McDowell (Mixer)
  Steve Bass (Rec)
Make Up: Gus Norin (Makeup artist)
  Hollis Barnes (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Ben Hersh (Prod supv)
  Les Nettenstrom (Asst prod mgr)
  Ralph Winters (Casting dir)
  Robert Justman (Company clerk)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "Summer Rains," music and lyrics by Sammy John DeFazio, Charles Milton Daniel and Gilbert Hugh Hall.
Composer: Charles Milton Daniel
  Sammy John DeFazio
  Gilbert Hugh Hall
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Gloria Productions, Inc. 6/4/1951 dd/mm/yyyy LP824

PCA NO: 14593
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound System
  b&w:
  Lenses/Prints: Garutso Balanced Lens

 
Genre: Drama
  Drama
Sub-Genre: Crime
  Psychological
 
Subjects (Major): Criminals
  Deserts
  Insanity
  Memory
  Scarves
  Strangling
 
Subjects (Minor): Bars
  Escapes
  Foster parents
  Fugitives
  Hermits
  Prison wardens
  Psychiatrists
  Ranches
  Rewards
  Songs
  Turkeys
  Waitresses

Note: The working title of this film was The Dungeon . A HR news item notes that Edwin Rolfe's story "The Dungeon" was to be published as a novel simultaneously with the film's release; however, no information confirming such publication has been found. According to HR news items, Vicki Cummings and Otto Kruger were considered for parts in the film. According to information in the copyright records, the CBCS and reviews, Celia Lovsky was cast as "Mrs. Barrington," however, there was no character by that name in the print viewed and Lovsky's appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The appearance of some additional cast members listed only in the the copyright records has not been confirmed.
       A 13 Apr 1950 HR article notes that Ray Turner, pianist and member of Paramount's music department, recorded "Summer Nights" for the film. Portions of the film were shot on location near Palmdale in the Mojave desert and an unidentified California state asylum. This was director E. A. Dupont's first film since 1939's Hell's Kitchen , which he co-directed with Lewis Seiler (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ).
       According to DV news items in Dec 1953 Bank of America filed suit against Gloria Productions and other defendants, seeking $4,100 still due on a $275,000 loan for the film. The plaintiff had previously asked the court to foreclose on the production and subsequently sold the film after the balance of its original loan was not paid. The complaintant also asked the court to declare Sunset Securities Co., a company affiliated with the Bank of America, the sole owner of the film. The disposition of the suit is unknown. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   31 Mar 1951.   
Daily Variety   19 Mar 1951   p. 3.
Daily Variety   12 Jul 1953.   
Daily Variety   7 Dec 1953.   
Daily Variety   18 Dec 1953.   
Film Daily   20 Mar 1951   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Feb 1950   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Mar 1950   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Mar 1950   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Mar 1950   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Apr 1950   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Apr 1950   p. 12, 25.
Hollywood Reporter   1 May 1950   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Jul 1950.   
Hollywood Reporter   19 Mar 1951   p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News   2 Jun 1951.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   24 Mar 1951   p. 766.
New York Times   23 Apr 1951   p. 21.
New York Times   29 Apr 1951.   
New Yorker   28 Apr 1951.   
Time   2 Apr 1951.   
Variety   21 Mar 1951   p. 6.

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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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