AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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These Wilder Years
Alternate Title: Somewhere I'll Find Him
Director: Roy Rowland (Dir)
Release Date:   3 Aug 1956
Production Date:   6 Mar--early Apr 1956
Duration (in mins):   91
Duration (in feet):   8,160
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   James Cagney (Steve Bradford)  
    Barbara Stanwyck (Ann Dempster)  
    Walter Pidgeon (James Rayburn)  
    Betty Lou Keim (Suzie [Keller])  
    Don Dubbins (Mark [Nelson])  
    Edward Andrews (Mr. [Leland G.] Spottsford)  
    Basil Ruysdael (Judge)  
    Grandon Rhodes (Roy Oliphant)  
    Will Wright (Old cab driver)  
    Lewis Martin (Dr. Miller)  
    Dorothy Adams (Aunt Martha)  
    Dean Jones (Hardware clerk [Emily's son])  
    Herb Vigran (Traffic cop)  
    Ruth Lee (Miss Adelaide Finch)  
    Matt Moore (Gateman)  
    Jack Kenny (Chauffeur)  
    Harry Tyler (Doorman)  
    Luana Lee (Stenographer)  
    William Forrest (Board of directors member)  
    John Maxwell (Board of directors member)  
    Emmett Vogan (Board of directors member)  
    Charles Evans (Board of directors member)  
    Tom Laughlin (Football player)  
    Bob Alden (Bellhop)  
    Michael Landon (Boy in pool room)  
    Jimmy Ogg (Boy)  
    Nesdon Booth (Pool room proprietor)  
    Ricky McGough (Child)  
    Louis Towers (Child)  
    Mary Alan Hokanson (Miss Smith)  
    Marc Platt (Mr. Callahan)  
    Mary Lawrence (Mrs. Callahan)  
    Elizabeth Flournoy (Spottsford's secretary)  
    Charles Herbert (Small boy)  
    Sid Tomack (Jess, bartender)  
    Leon Tyler (Student secretary)  
    Kathleen Mulqueen (Prim lady)  
    Burt Mustin (Elderly man)  
    Russell Simpson (Farmer)  
    Bruce Irwin (2-year-old boy)  
    Russ Whitney (Hotel clerk)  
    Charles Tannen (Loafer)  
    Billy Wayne (Bowling alley proprietor)  
    Lillian Powell (Proprietress)  
    Audrey Swanson (Saleslady)  
    Jimmy Hayes (Young reporter)  
    Edna Holland (Nurse)  
    Ralph Neff (Lazy bartender)  
    Lois Kimbrell (Secretary)  
    Frank Connor (Court clerk)  

Summary: At his steel company in Detroit, tycoon Steve Bradford informs his board that he will be away indefinitely on personal business. On the plane to the small town of Bufton, where he grew up, Steve notes the despair of a college football player who has just lost the big game, and urges him to remember his wins rather than what he has lost. At the Bufton orphanage, called The Haven, Steve reveals to proprietress Ann Dempster that he is searching for the son he abandoned as an infant twenty years earlier. When Ann questions why he wants to know his son after all this time, Steve confesses that he has everything in life—success, money, prestige—but still feels empty, and wants to make up for his past mistakes. Ann explains that adoption law precludes her from giving away the young man’s information, after which Steve informs her that he always gets what he wants. They are interrupted when a couple comes to pick up their adoptive baby, the sight of which causes pregnant teenager Suzie Keller to burst into tears. Suzie is staying with Ann until the birth of her child, but cannot bear the thought of giving up the baby. Feeling a kinship with the confused youth, Steve consoles her, and later invites Ann to dinner, hoping to befriend her. Although Ann consents to Steve joining her and Suzie for dinner at their apartment, she is called away before he arrives. Suzie cooks for Steve and informs him that after her boyfriend was drafted, she had to leave town in order to avoid disgracing her parents, who are wealthy socialites. When Ann returns later, Steve serves her dinner, and Ann counsels Steve that, because his son already has a life and parents he loves, Steve’s intrusion into their lives could be cruel. Although Steve tries to tempt her into giving him information by offering to donate a much-needed new dormitory for the orphanage, Ann refuses. The next day, Steve visits local lawyer Leland G. Spottsford to consult about his rights regarding his son, but upon finding the lawyer a fatuous braggart, orders expert attorney James Rayburn to come to Bufton to help him. While awaiting Jim's arrival, Steve attends the local court, having learned from Ann that Suzie’s juvenile court hearing will take place that afternoon. In court, he hears the truth about Suzie’s situation: her father disappeared when she was born, her mother is dead and the baby’s father is falsely denying his paternity. The court allows Suzie to remain with Ann until the birth of the baby, as long as she promises to place it up for adoption. Later, Steve tracks down his son’s mother, Emily, by contacting her high school alumni association, and upon learning that she lives in New Hampshire, flies there to speak to her. At her family store, however, he discovers that Emily died years earlier. Although Steve tries to charm information out of Martha, Emily’s sister, Martha knows who he is and coldly notifies him that he should “leave well enough alone.” Back in Bufton, he finds Jim, who informs him that with enough time and money, he can find a loophole in the adoption laws. Later, Steve runs into Suzie while she is Christmas shopping, and walks her home. There, Suzie conspires with Steve to urge Ann to go out with him, and he accompanies her to a department store, where he buys expensive earrings for Suzie, then pretends they are trinkets. Back at the apartment, Steve and Ann begin to forge a friendship while discussing Ann’s devotion to her job. Ann is advising Steve to think of his son rather than himself when Jim calls to inform Ann that she has been subpoenaed for fraud, and she angrily throws Steve out. The trial soon starts, in which Ann is accused of deceiving Steve by placing his son up for adoption without his consent. Although Steve knows the charge is false and that the ensuing publicity about his past actions will ruin his reputation, he believes the trial is his only chance to gain access to his son. As Ann steadfastly refuses to hand over documents, however, placing her in danger of being in contempt of court, Steve grows more miserable. On the witness stand, Ann explains that if Steve is allowed to wreck his son’s peace, adoptive parents and children everywhere will fear the same could happen to them. She asks for a continuance, and when she returns, reads from the stand a statement Steve made to child welfare services twenty years earlier, in which he denied paternity of Emily’s child. Steve recognizes the same words used by Suzie’s boyfriend, and is shamed into silence. After the judge dismisses the case, Ann informs Steve that Suzie has been hit by a car and is refusing a necessary operation for fear that it will harm her baby. Steve rushes to the hospital, where he confesses to the girl that he cannot afford to lose her because he is too lonely, and convinces her to have the operation. He waits all night until the doctor assures him that both Suzie and her newly born son are healthy. Exhausted, Steve walks to a nearby bowling alley to relieve the tension. He is followed by a young man who begins playing alongside him, then reveals that he is Steve’s son, Mark Nelson, and has followed the press coverage of the trial. They try talking at the hotel bar, but the noise level drives them out onto the street, where Steve tries to explain his desire to make up for wronging Mark and his longing to meet him. After describing his beloved adoptive father and admitting that he has followed Steve’s career through the newspapers throughout his life, Mark states that although he planned to tell Steve he despised him, now that he has met him, his anger is fading. Mark tells his father, “I missed you, too,” and refuses Steve’s offer of help, stating that all he ever needed was this meeting. Steve, knowing Ann must have contacted Mark, goes to The Haven to thank her. After he insists on donating a huge sum of money to the orphanage, Ann gently suggests that he could help Suzie, too. Within weeks, Steve readies to return to Detroit, alongside his new adoptive daughter and grandson, Stevie. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Roy Rowland (Dir)
  Al Jennings (Asst dir)
Producer: Jules Schermer (Prod)
Writer: Frank Fenton (Scr)
  Ralph Wheelwright (Story)
Photography: George J. Folsey (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Preston Ames (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ben Lewis (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Edward G. Boyle (Set dec)
Costumes: Helen Rose (Cost for Barbara Stanwyck)
Music: Jeff Alexander (Mus)
Sound: Dr. Wesley C. Miller (Rec supv)
  Tommy Edwards (Sd)
  Scott Perry (Sd ed)
  John Logan (Sd ed)
  Tom McCarthy (Sd ed)
Make Up: Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles)
  William Tuttle (Makeup)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs:
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Loew's Inc. 16/7/1956 dd/mm/yyyy LP6923

PCA NO: 18058
Physical Properties: Sd: Perspecta Sound; Westrex Recording System
  b&w:
  Widescreen/ratio: 1.85:1

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Domestic
 
Subjects (Major): Adoption
  Fathers and sons
  Orphanages
  Searches
  Steel tycoons
  Transformation
  Trials
 
Subjects (Minor): Adolescents
  Automobile accidents
  Bowling and bowling alleys
  Ethics
  False accusations
  Infants
  Lawyers
  Loneliness
  Parentage
  Physicians
  Pregnancy
  Self-sacrifice
  Small town life
  Unmarried mothers

Note: The working titles of this film were Somewhere I'll Find Him , All Our Yesterdays and All Our Tomorrows . On 31 Jan 1955, a “Rambling Reporter” item in HR noted that M-G-M wanted Susan Strasberg to play the role of “Suzie Keller.” HR announced on 17 Feb 1955 that the studio had purchased the story on 16 Feb, and that prior to that date, Helen Hayes and James Cagney had agreed to star. Hayes planned to give to proceeds from the role to the Mary MacArthur Polio Foundation, dedicated to her daughter. However, according to a 14 Mar 1955 DV announcement, Hayes never signed the contract and subsequently withdrew due to scheduling conflicts. Ralph Wheelwright, an M-G-M publicist, took temporary leave from his position in order to write the story, his first, for These Wilder Years , as noted in an 11 Mar 1955 DV article. In Sep 1955, Louella Parsons stated in her LAEx column that Debbie Reynolds had been cast as Suzie but, concerned about playing an unwed mother, planned to back out. Parsons suggested that actress Judy Jordon could step in for Reynolds.
       According to a Mar 1956 HR news item, some scenes were shot on location at the Kaiser Steel Mills in Fontana, CA. Although a HR news item and production charts add Janet Lake and Don Burnett to the cast, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Betty Lou Keim, Tom Laughlin and Michael Landon (1936--1991) made their feature film debuts in These Wilder Years . Landon appeared in several films in the late 1950s, then went on to co-star in the popular television series Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   28 Jul 1956.   
Daily Variety   11 Mar 1955.   
Daily Variety   14 Mar 1955   p. 1, 7.
Daily Variety   23 Jul 56   p. 3.
Film Daily   23 Jul 56   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jan 1955   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Feb 1955   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Mar 1956   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Mar 1956   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Mar 1956   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Apr 1956   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jun 1956   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Jul 56   p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner   1 Sep 1955.   
Los Angeles Mirror-News   20 Sep 1956.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   28 Jul 56   p. 2.
New York Times   18 Aug 56   p. 11.
Variety   25 Jul 56   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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