AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Company She Keeps
Alternate Title: The Wall Outside
Director: John Cromwell (Dir)
Release Date:   6 Jan 1951
Production Date:   early Mar--early Apr 1950
Duration (in mins):   81-83
Duration (in feet):   7,440
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Cast:   Lizabeth Scott (Joan [Willburn])  
    Jane Greer (Diane [Stuart, previously known as Mildred Lynch])  
    Dennis O'Keefe (Larry [Collins])  
    Fay Baker (Tilly [Thompson])  
    John Hoyt (Judge Kendall)  
    James Bell (Mr. Neeley)  
    Don Beddoe (Jamieson)  
    Bert Freed (Smitty)  
    Irene Tedrow (Mrs. Seeley)  
    Marjorie Wood (Mrs. Haley)  
    Marjorie Crossland (Mrs. Griggs)  
    Virginia Farmer (Mrs. Harris)  
    Parley Baer (Steve)  
    Dick Ryan (Waiter)  
    Harry Cheshire (Cliff Martin)  
    Jasper Weldon (Red Cap)  
    Jack Gargan (Hospital attendant)  
    Kathleen Freeman (Jessie)  
    Geraldine Carr (Rita)  
    Helen Brown (Helen Johnson)  
    Eileene Stevens (Bess Kreiger)  
    Wanda Tynan (Jenny)  
    Charles Wagenheim (Pete)  
    Frances Driver (Rosabelle)  
    Jane Crowley (May)  
    Royce Milne (Girl)  
    Jerry Mullins (Boy)  
    Gail Bonney (Nurse)  
    Sally Corner (Patient)  
    David Clarke (Barkley)  
    Kenneth Tobey (Rex)  
    Don Greer (Fred)  
    Kate Lawson (Mrs. Spencer)  
    Charles McAvoy (Counterman)  
    Torben Meyer (Waiter in French restaurant)  
    Claudia Constant (Peggy)  
    Yvonne Rob (Freda)  
    Gerald Pierce (Office boy)  
    Paul Lees (Kendall's secretary)  
    Dewey Robinson (Sergeant)  
    William Ruhl (Joe)  
    Barry Brooks (Policeman outside)  
    Victoria Horne (Marcia)  
    Maria Costi (Laura)  
    Theresa Harris (Lilly Johnson)  
    Adrienne Marden (Amy Bower)  
    Virginia Vincent (Annabelle Bird)  
    Hilda Plowright (Victim)  
    Don Dillaway (Victim)  
    June Benbow (Myrtle)  
    Brick Sullivan (Sykes)  
    Alyn Lockwood (Policewoman)  
    Forrest Dickson (Policewoman)  
    Eric Alden (Sergeant of detectives)  
    Ruth Lee (Matron)  
    Joey Ray (Ricci)  
    Helen Carlson (Saleswoman)  
    Mary Alan Hokanson (Saleswoman)  
    Ann Howard (Stock girl)  
    Larry Barton (Store detective)  
    George Volk (Detective)  
    Peter Michaels (Detective)  
    Fred Hoose (Ticket agent)  
    Erskine Sanford (Professor)  
    Gertrude Hoffman (Miss Kaufman)  
    Edith Evanson (Miss Holman)  
    Elizabeth Flournoy (Mrs. May)  
    Frances Morris (Mrs. McLean)  
    Jeff Bridges (Baby at station)  
    Dorothy Dean (Woman at station)  
    Beau Bridges (Boy at station)  
    Lela Bliss (Shopper)  
    Virginia Mullen (Shopper)  

Summary: The moment she learns that she has been paroled from the State Institute for Women, model prisoner Mildred Lynch, who has served two years for check forging, changes her name to Diane Stuart and heads for Los Angeles. Upon arriving, her parole officer, Joan Willburn, escorts her to her new boardinghouse and tells her that she will be working at a local hospital. Diane, who has struggled to overcome a difficult childhood as well as a drinking problem, acts bitterly toward the soft-spoken Joan, but agrees to go out with her that night. While they are dining, Joan notices her boyfriend, reporter Larry Collins, in the restaurant bar and leaves the table to talk to him. After Joan gently turns down Larry's marriage proposal because of the demanding nature of her job, she invites Larry to meet Diane. Before Larry even catches sight of Diane, however, she bolts. When Diane later explains to Joan her fear that people like Larry will label and reject her, Joan advises her not to think like an ex-convict, then informs her that, as a precaution, she has been assigned the hospital's night shift. Though disappointed, Diane dutifully reports to work and there meets fellow parolee Tilly Thompson. While on duty one night, Diane spies Larry visiting his sick boss and connives to meet him. Larry sees through her coy act and snubs her, but the determined Diane soon persuades him to take her out. Diane then asks the unsuspecting Joan for money to buy a new coat, but Joan is unable to accommodate her. Frustrated, Diane considers stealing a coat from a clothing store but stops herself at the last moment. When she returns to her boardinghouse, she finds that Joan has sent her own evening coat for Diane to borrow. Diane's date with Larry does not go well, and Diane, who has not told Larry anything about her past, becomes agitated when he innocently questions her about a purse and some money that has dropped out of her coat pocket. As they are saying goodnight, however, Diane breaks down in tears and apologizes to Larry for trying to manipulate him. Despite this inauspicious start, Larry begins to see Diane in earnest, and the two fall deeply in love. Joan senses that Larry has become interested in someone else, but does not discover the other woman is Diane until she sees her sharing cocktails with Larry at the airport, where he is waiting for a plane. Hurt and concerned, Joan later lectures Diane about becoming involved with a man whose life-style is beyond her means. Adding that Diane has already violated her parole by drinking, Joan then strongly advises her to stop seeing Larry. Soon after, however, Larry telephones Diane at the hospital and asks her to fly to New York to be with him. Without explaining why, Diane tearfully informs him that she cannot leave and hangs up. Undaunted, Larry shows up at Diane's boardinghouse the next day, and Diane gives in to her feelings. When Diane next reports to Joan's office, she breaks down and tells her rival that Larry has proposed. Sensing that Diane truly is in love, Joan bravely endorses the marriage, but reminds her charge that, as a parolee, her plans must first be approved by the parole board, which would contact Larry as a matter of course. Terrified of telling Larry the truth about her past, Diane decides not to file her petition and leaves Joan's office. Soon after, Larry arrives to make a final break with Joan and finally learns about her relationship with Diane. Though surprised, Larry remains devoted to Diane and convinces her to file her petition. At the board meeting, one of the members shows Joan a letter written by Diane, in which Diane reveals Joan's prior romance with Larry and her possible prejudice in the case. Joan is hurt by Diane's lack of trust but continues to champion her in front of the board. After the board decides to postpone making any decisions, Diane accuses Joan of sabotaging the marriage. Then while trying to protect Tilly, who has been stealing drugs from the hospital, Diane is arrested. Aware that Diane will be forced to return to prison because of the arrest, Joan pleads with the judge to be lenient. While awaiting the judge's decision, Diane sneaks away from the courthouse but is followed to the train station by Larry. There, Larry convinces her not to run away, and when Diane returns to the court, she learns that, because of Joan's belief in her, the judge has dismissed the charges against her. Joan then gives Diane and Larry her final blessing, and the couple looks forward to a happy future together. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: John Cromwell (Dir)
  James Casey (Asst dir)
Producer: Sid Rogell (Exec prod)
  John Houseman (Prod)
Writer: Ketti Frings (Story and scr)
  Edith Sommer (Contr to scr const)
Photography: Nicholas Musuraca (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
  Alfred Herman (Art dir)
Film Editor: Robert Swink (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
  William Stevens (Set dec)
Costumes: Michael Woulfe (Gowns)
Music: Leigh Harline (Mus)
  C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
Sound: Francis Sarver (Sd)
  Clem Portman (Sd)
Make Up: Mel Berns (Makeup artist)
  Larry Germain (Hairstylist)
Country: United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 31/12/1950 dd/mm/yyyy LP732

PCA NO: 14448
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound System
  b&w:

 
Genre: Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Criminals--Rehabilitation
  Ex-convicts
  Parole officers
  Romantic rivalry
  Self-sacrifice
  Women prisoners
 
Subjects (Minor): Airports
  Alcoholics
  Arrests
  Automobile racing
  Boardinghouses
  Coats
  Drug dealers
  Hospitals
  Judges
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Parole boards
  Reporters

Note: The working title of this film was The Wall Outside . According to Aug 1949 HR news items, RKO head Howard Hughes purchased the rights to a theatrical adaptation of Ketti Frings's screenplay, which was to be produced on Broadway by William Bloomingdale and Hal Roach, Jr. No evidence that the play was ever produced has been found, however. Another HR news item noted that Hughes bought the film project from Hal Wallis, who reportedly intended it as a vehicle for Barbara Stanwyck. RKO then borrowed star Lizabeth Scott from Wallis' company for the production. In Oct 1949, Nicholas Ray was announced as the film's probable director.
       Jeff Bridges, the son of actors Lloyd Bridges and Dorothy Dean, made his screen debut in the picture. Dean acted in the same sequence as Jeff, as did his brother Beau, marking the first time that the brothers appeared together onscreen. Some scenes were filmed at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, CA. According to modern sources, the picture lost $315,000 at the box office. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   30 Dec 1950.   
Daily Variety   19 Dec 50   p. 3.
Film Daily   22 Dec 50   p. 6
Hollywood Reporter   16 Aug 49   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Aug 49   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Oct 49   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Feb 50   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Feb 50   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Feb 50   p. 2, 9
Hollywood Reporter   24 Mar 50   p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Dec 50   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   23 Dec 50   p. 633.
New York Times   29 Jan 51   p. 14.
Variety   20 Dec 50   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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