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Four Daughters
Alternate Title: Sister Act
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
Release Date:   24 Sep 1938
Production Date:   18 Apr--4 Jun 1938
Duration (in mins):   90
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Claude Rains (Adam Lemp)  
    Jeffrey Lynn (Felix Deitz)  
    John Garfield (Mickey Bordon)  
    Frank McHugh (Ben Crowley)  
    May Robson (Aunt Etta)  
    Gale Page (Emma Lemp)  
    Dick Foran (Ernest)  
    Vera Lewis (Mrs. Ridgefield)  
    Tom Dugan (Jake)  
    Eddie Acuff (Sam)  
    Donald Kerr (Earl)  
    Priscilla Lane (Ann Lemp)  
    Lola Lane (Thea Lemp)  
    Rosemary Lane (Kay Lemp)  
    Joe Cunningham (Waiter)  
    Wilfred Lucas (Doctor)  
    Jerry Mandy    

Summary: Music professor Adam Lemp has four daughters, Thea, Emma, Kay and Ann. Thea feels that love is an overrated reason for marriage and plans to marry Ben Crowley for money. Emma is loved by shy, awkward Ernest, whom the family assumes she will marry. Kay, the only one of the four to have real musical amibition, is a singer. The youngest, at eighteen, is irrepressible Ann, who pledges with Emma that neither will marry, but will live together forever. This changes with the arrival of handsome Felix Deitz, a composer who has come to town to compete for a music prize. Adam invites Felix to live at the house, and all the girls immediately develop crushes on him. Mickey Bordon, a piano player, arrives to assist Felix in writing his compositions. Mickey has a glum attitude that offends most people. Only Ann and the girl's aunt Etta see through his moroseness to the lonely person underneath and befriend him. During a family excursion to the country, Felix proposes to Ann. When they announce their engagement, Mickey, who also loves Ann, is shattered and the other sisters are taken aback. Kay declares that she is leaving for Philadelphia to study singing. Thea, in turn, tells the family that she and Ben will also marry soon. Emma is the most upset, but she hides her feelings from Ann. Shortly before her wedding, Ann encounters Mickey, who confesses his love and informs her that Emma is in love with Felix. Ann is shocked. Then, thinking she can make both Mickey and Emma happy, she elopes with Mickey, leaving Felix for her beloved sister. Emma and Felix do not marry, and shortly afterward, he leaves for Seattle. In New York, where they settle, Mickey and Ann face constant disappointments. Hoping to lift Mickey's spirits, the couple returns to the Lemps' at Christmas time. Everyone is home except Kay, who is singing that evening on the radio. Even Felix is visiting for the holidays. Emma tells Ann that she is engaged to Ernest, having fallen in love with him when he took care of the family after the elopement. Mickey notices that Ann and Felix are still in love, although they do their best to hide it. He offers to drive Felix to the train station and agrees to drop Ben along the way. On the way home, Mickey drives the car into a tree. When news of the accident reaches the Lemp home, Thea believes that Ben is the one who was injured and realizes that she loves him. The whole family races to the hospital, where they learn that Mickey is dying. He and Ann say their goodbyes. In the spring, Felix returns to the Lemps' to renew his proposal to Ann. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: A First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
  Irving Rapper (Dial dir)
  Sherry Shourds (Asst dir)
Producer: Henry Blanke (Prod)
  Jack L. Warner (Exec prod)
  Hal B. Wallis (Exec prod)
  Benjamin Glazer (Assoc prod)
Writer: Julius Epstein (Scr)
  Lenore Coffee (Scr)
  Lawrence Kimble (Contr wrt)
  Thyra Samter Winslow (Contr to trmt)
Photography: Ernest Haller (Photog)
Art Direction: John Hughes (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ralph Dawson (Film ed)
Costumes: Orry-Kelly (Gowns)
Music: Leo F. Forbstein (Mus dir)
  Max Steiner (Mus)
Sound: Stanley Jones (Sd)
Production Misc: Al Alleborn (Unit mgr)
Country: United States

Music: "Serenade" by Franz Schubert.
Composer: Franz Schubert
Source Text: Based on short story "Sister Act" by Fannie Hurst in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Mar 1937)
Authors: Fannie Hurst

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 29/7/1938 dd/mm/yyyy LP8283

PCA NO: 4400
Physical Properties: Sd:
  b&w:

 
Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre: Domestic
 
Subjects (Major): Family life
  Musicians
  Romance
  Sisters
 
Subjects (Minor): Aunts
  Automobile accidents
  Bracelets
  Christmas
  Composers
  Depression, Mental
  Dogs
  Engagements
  Gossip
  Hospitals
  Jealousy
  Parties
  Self-sacrifice
  Singers
  Suicide
  Weddings

Note: The onscreen credits list Priscilla Lane as "Pricilla Lane." The film's pre-release titles were Because of a Man and Sister Act . According to MPH , Errol Flynn was originally assigned to Jeffrey Lynn's part, but was replaced when he became ill. This was John Garfield's first major film role, following a "bit" in Footlight Parade , and in it he established the screen personality he came to exploit in many other films. The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Direction. Garfield was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor. NYT named it one of the year's ten best films, and the National Board of Review named Garfield as one of the year's best actors. Modern sources add the following information about the production and credits: Michael Curtiz wanted Burgess Meredith to play Mickey, but he was working in Europe and was unavailable. Garfield modeled his performance on pianist Oscar Levant. Harry Warren, Al Dubin, Allie Wrubel, Elliot Grennard, Hugo Friedhofer, Heinz Roemheld and Bernard Kaun are credited with musical contributions. Max Rabinowitz composed "Mickey's Theme," and also played the piano off-screen during Garfield's performance. Ray Heindorf handled the orchestration. The film was so popular that two sequels were made, Four Wives in 1939, also directed by Curtiz (see below) and Four Mothers in 1941. Many of the cast of the film starred in another Warner Bros. film, Daughters Courageous , released in 1939, which had an almost identical plot. Fannie Hurst's story was remade by Warner Bros. in 1954 as Young at Heart , a musical starring Doris Day, Dorothy Malone, Elizabeth Fraser and Frank Sinatra and directed by Gordon Douglas. In that film, the character played by Sinatra does not die. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   9 Aug 38   p. 3.
Film Daily   10 Aug 38   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Apr 38   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Aug 38   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   10 Aug 38   p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald   21 May 38   p. 37.
Motion Picture Herald   13 Aug 38   p. 59.
New York Times   19 Aug 38   p. 13.
Variety   17 Aug 38   p. 22.

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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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