AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Presenting Lily Mars
Director: Norman Taurog (Dir)
Release Date:   1943
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 29 Apr 1943
Production Date:   3 Aug--late Sep 1942; late Oct 1942; addl scenes began early Mar 1943
Duration (in mins):   102 or 104 or 106
Duration (in reels):   11
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Cast:   Judy Garland (Lily Mars)  
    Van Heflin (John Thornway)  
    Fay Bainter (Mrs. [Mimi] Thornway)  
    Richard Carlson (Owen Vail)  
    Spring Byington (Mrs. [Flora] Mars)  
    Marta Eggerth (Isobel Rekay)  
    Connie Gilchrist (Frankie)  
    Leonid Kinskey (Leo)  
    Patricia Barker (Poppy [Mars])  
    Janet Chapman (Violet [Mars])  
    Annabelle Logan (Rose [Mars])  
    Douglas Croft (Davey [Mars])  
    Ray McDonald (Charlie Potter)  
    Tommy Dorsey   and his Orchestra
    Bob Crosby   and his Orchestra
    Six Hits and a Miss    
    Charles Walters (Dancer)  
    Lee Wilde (Singer)  
    Lyn Wilde (Singer)  
    Judy Carol (Singer on "St. Louis Blues")  
    Gus Schilling (Scotty)  
    Lew Payton (Andrew)  
    William Tannen (Eugene Shepherd)  
    Foncilla Adams (Showgirl)  
    Marcella Holmes (Showgirl)  
    Frances Rafferty (Showgirl)  
    Vicky Lane (Gwen)  
    Lynne Carver (Bonnie)  
    Marilyn Maxwell (Pris)  
    Mary Alice Moore (Script girl)  
    Joe Yule (Mike)  
    Lillian Yarbo (Isobel's maid)  
    Almira Sessions (Manager)  
    Cliff Danielson (Clerk)  
    Barbara Bedford (Assistant boardinghouse manager)  
    Charles Meakin (Mayor)  
    Mabel Smaney (Fat woman)  
    Bryn Davis (Fat woman)  
    Henry Sylvester (Professor Eggleston)  
    Harry Rosenthal (Pianist)  
    Helen Dickson (Mrs. Schofield)  
    Betty Blythe (Dowager)  
    Pat West (Bartender)  
    Bill Dill (Waiter)  
    Al Murphy (Waiter)  
    Remington Olmstead Jr. (Specialty dancer)  
    Eric Braunsteiner (Specialty dancer)  
    Lee Murray (Specialty dancer)  
    Milton Chisholm (Specialty dancer)  
    Jack Vlaskin (Specialty dancer)  
    Frank Coghlan Jr. (Elevator boy)  
    Bob Cautiero (Captain of waiters)  
    Jack Chefe (Captain of waiters)  
    Al Murphy (Waiter)  
    Virginia Engels (Blonde)  
    Carl LeViness (Tired man)  
    Bobby Barber (Busboy)  
    Bill Cartledge (Jockey)  
    Claire McDowell    

Summary: Nineteen-year-old Lily Mars of Midhaven, Indiana, wants desperately to become an actress and so convinces neighbor Mimi Thornway to introduce her to her son John, a Broadway theatrical producer. When John, who is in town with the touring show of his latest production, learns about Lily, however, he refuses to meet her, sure that she is just another rank amateur. Undaunted, Lily steals John's annotated copy of Let Me Dream , his next play, and then tells him that he can pick it up at her house. To John's dismay, Lily forces him to watch her mawkish rendition of "Lady Macbeth's" soliloquy before returning his script. Although John angrily advises Lily to give up her acting dreams, Lily remains determined to prove her talent. To that end, she and her youngest sister Poppy dress in rags and stand outside John's study, reciting lines from a Victorian melodrama. Lily's performance is also witnessed by Russian-born actress Isobel Rekay and Let Me Dream playwright Owen Vail, who have dropped by to see John on their way to the theater. Hearing Poppy yelling "Papa, Papa" at an annoyed John, Owen and Isobel, with whom John is romantically entangled, assume the worst. Later, when Lily crashes John's post-show party, Owen offers to help her confront the producer with his "misdeeds." John soon straightens out Owen and Isobel and begins chasing Lily around his house, determined to make good on his threat to spank her if she ever again bothered him. Lily momentarily distracts John by singing a swing number with the hired band, then agrees to leave peaceably. Before going, however, Lily informs John that he acts hostily toward her because he is afraid of his attraction to her. Despite her bravado, Lily breaks down in tears as soon as she arrives home and is comforted by her three sisters and brother. Lily's kind mother Flora, a hatmaker, then advises her to follow her dream and go to New York. By the time Lily arrives there, having hitchhiked the entire way, John is already rehearsing Let Me Dream . Lily manages to sneak into John's theater and hides out undetected until she is discovered by charwoman Frankie. Former actress Frankie confesses that she, too, came to New York as a starry-eyed youth and reassures Lily that, no matter what happens, she belongs on Broadway. The next day during rehearsal, Lily reveals herself to John when she starts dancing with the show's chorus line and faints from hunger. A suddenly sympathetic John treats Lily to lunch and allows her to remain in the chorus. After John arranges a boardinghouse for Lily, Isobel, sensing John's growing interest in the young woman, complains about the play's third act. While Owen and John are rewriting the act one night, Lily shows up at the theater and suggests her own ending. John and Owen incorporate Lily's ideas into the revised act and, despite Owen's warnings that he is getting too involved with Lily, John casts her as Isobel's maid. Two weeks later, Isobel drops by the same nightclub to which John, who is now smitten with Lily, has taken her and watches in horror as Lily imitates her on the club's stage. After a jealous Isobel quits the next day, John announces he is closing the show. Lily insists that she can take over Isobel's part, and blinded by his love for her, John agrees to cast her. Lily founders in the demanding role, however, and just before the play is to open, John reluctantly informs her that he is replacing her with Isobel, with whom he has made peace. John advises Lily not to give up, but to stay with the show in her original, modest part. Lily is crushed by John's decision and tells her family, who have come to New York to see her in her first starring role, that she is a failure. The Marses shower Lily with love and support, and to John's relief and delight, Lily makes her entrance as the maid. Sometime later, as John watches with pride, Lily makes another entrance, but this time she is a full-fledged star. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Norman Taurog (Dir)
  Dolph Zimmer (Asst dir)
  Roy Del Ruth (Addl scenes dir by)
Producer: Joseph Pasternak (Prod)
Writer: Richard Connell (Scr)
  Gladys Lehman (Scr)
  Jack Mintz (Comedy constr)
Photography: Joseph Ruttenberg (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Harry McAfee (Assoc)
  Merrill Pye (Musical presentation)
Film Editor: Albert Akst (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Richard Pefferle (Assoc)
Costumes: Shoup (Gowns)
Music: Roger Edens (Mus adpt)
  Georgie Stoll (Mus dir)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe (Spec eff)
Dance: Ernst Matray (Dance dir)
Make Up: Bill Tuttle (Judy Garland's makeup)
Production Misc: Sergei Petschnikoff (Unit mgr)
Stand In: Elinor Davenport (Vocal stand-in for Judy Garland)
  Virginia Rees (Vocal stand-in for Judy Garland)
  Mary Kent (Singing double for Judy Garland on "Every Little Movement")
  Muriel Goodspeed (Vocal stand-in for Marta Eggerth)
Country: United States

Songs: "Is It Really Love?" and "When I Look at You," words and music by Paul Francis Webster; "Russian Rhapsody," words and music by Paul Francis Webster and Walter Jurman; "Every Little Movement," words by Otto Harbach, music by Karl Hoschna; "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son," words by Burton Lane, music by E. Y. Harburg; "Broadway Rhythm," words by Arthur Freed, music by Nacio Herb Brown; "Where There's Music," words and music by Roger Edens; "Three O'Clock in the Morning," words by Dorothy Terriss, music by Julian Robeldo.
Composer: Walter Jurman
  Paul Francis Webster
  Nacio Herb Brown
  Roger Edens
  Arthur Freed
  Otto Harbach
  E. Y. Harburg
  Karl Hoschna
  Burton Lane
  Julian Robeldo
  Dorothy Terriss
Source Text: Based on the novel Presenting Lily Mars by Booth Tarkington (New York, 1933).
Authors: Booth Tarkington

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 6/5/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12080 Yes

PCA NO: 8986
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Musical
Subjects (Major): Actors and actresses
  Family relationships
  New York City--Broadway
  Theatrical producers
Subjects (Minor): Boardinghouses
  Macbeth (Play)
  Russian Americans

Note: According to modern sources, M-G-M acquired Booth Tarkington's novel as a vehicle for Lana Turner. HR news items add the following information about the production: George Murphy was originally cast as Judy Garland's co-star. Although Herbert Stothart was announced as Roger Edens' co-composer in Jul 1942, only Edens is credited onscreen. Tommye Adams tested for a part in late Jul 1942, and Mary Elliott, a former Miss South Carolina, was to make her screen debut in the picture, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Twins Lyn and Lee Wilde made their screen debuts in the picture. Wally Cassell and Albert Morin were announced as cast members, but were not in the final film. Saxophonist Gil Rodin, drummer Ray Bauduc, trumpeter Max Herman, trombonist Bruce Squires and clarinetist Pete Carpenter, members of Bob Crosby's band, were to be featured in the film, but their participation in the completed film has not been confirmed.
       In late Sep 1942, principal photography was halted for several weeks while the finale was being rehearsed. That finale, which featured Garland singing "Paging Mr. Greenback" by E. Y. Harburg, Sammy Fain and Lew Brown set against a patriotic background, was reshot by Roy Del Ruth in Mar 1943. The new finale consisted of a medley of songs, including "Broadway Rhythm," "Three O'Clock in the Morning" and "Where There's Music." Modern sources state that the studio decided to reshoot the finale after preview audiences reacted negatively to it. CBCS lists Gerald Pierce, William Stahl and Cooper Norris in roles that were not included in the completed film, but were probably part of the original finale. According to modern sources, former Broadway dancer and future M-G-M director Charles Walters choreographed the reshot finale, as well as appearing as Garland's partner. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   1 May 1943.   
Daily Variety   28 Apr 43   pp. 3-4.
Film Daily   28 Apr 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Jun 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jul 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Jul 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Jul 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jul 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Aug 42   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Aug 42   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Aug 42   pp. 14-15.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Aug 42   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Sep 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Sep 42   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Sep 42   , 15609
Hollywood Reporter   12 Oct 42   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Oct 42   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Oct 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Mar 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Apr 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Apr 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   3 May 43   p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald   1 May 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   1 May 43   p. 1289.
New York Times   30 Apr 43   p. 25.
Variety   28 Apr 43   p. 8.

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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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