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The Flame Within
Director: Edmund Goulding (Dir)
Release Date:   17 May 1935
Production Date:   13 Mar--6 Apr 1935
Duration (in mins):   73 or 75
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Ann Harding (Doctor Mary White)  
    Herbert Marshall (Doctor Gordon Phillips)  
    Maureen O'Sullivan (Lillian Belton)  
    Louis Hayward (Jack Kerry)  
    Henry Stephenson (Doctor Jock Frazier)  
    Margaret Seddon (Mrs. Grenfell)  
    George Russell (Mr. Rigby)  
    Eily Malyon (Murdock)  
    Claudelle Kaye (Nurse Carter)  
    Sam Hayes (Radio announcer)  

Summary: Psychiatrist Mary White and physicians Gordon Phillips and Jock Frazier mingle with the elite citizens of New York at the city's annual Hospital Circus Ball. There, Gordon, who is in love with Mary, proposes marriage to her, but she rejects him. Though Mary is in love with Gordon, she tells him that she is unable to take a marriage oath because she is committed to her career. When Gordon learns that one of his patients, the wealthy Englishwoman Lillian Belton, has just attempted suicide, he leaves the ball to attend to her. While Lillian recovers from a drug overdose, Gordon discovers that prior to her suicide attempt she was depressed over her broken relationship with Jack Kerry, an alcoholic Englishman. Realizing that Lillian's problem must be treated delicately, Gordon suggests that she meet with Mary. Lillian takes Gordon's advice, but when she places a call to Jack from Mary's office, she learns that he has gone out drinking and attempts to jump out of the window, but is stopped by Mary. The distraught Lillian admits that she is in love with Jack but that he does not care for her. Believing that she can help Lillian by counseling Jack and treating his alcoholism, Mary asks her to bring him in for treatment. Jack's drinking problem becomes immediately apparent to Mary when he arrives at her home and asks for a drink to rid himself of a hangover. During their meeting, Mary is called away unexpectedly and forced to cancel the remainder of her session with Jack. Later, when Mary returns home, she learns that Jack came back and is alseep in one of her rooms. Mary allows him to catch up on his much-needed sleep, and Gordon takes him home the following day. Concerned about Mary's involvement with a case as tough as Jack's, Gordon suggests that she turn him over to Dr. Salter, a specialist in alcoholism. Four months after Jack is sent to Brownlow's Physical Culture Camp to begin his rehabilitation, Gordon and Mary visit him, but are disappointed when they discover that he is still drinking heavily and prone to violent outbursts. Eight months pass, and Jack, showing definite signs of recovery, demonstrates for Mary and Gordon his new invention: an air chair for passenger airplanes. Following Jack's release from the rehabilitation center, he and Lillian make plans to marry and return to England. Soon after they are married, however, the newlyweds become embroiled in an argument when Lillian discovers that Jack has fallen in love with Mary, and that Mary has developed strong feelings for him as well. Furious, Lillian accuses Mary of seducing her husband. Mary later tells Jack that he has become as dependent on her as Lillian has become on him. All ends happily though when Jack realizes his obligation to remain true to his marriage commitment, and when Mary finally accepts Gordon's marriage proposal. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's, Inc.)
Distribution Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.  
Director: Edmund Goulding (Dir)
  Dolph Zimmer (Asst dir)
Producer: Edmund Goulding (Prod)
Writer: Edmund Goulding (Wrt)
Photography: James Wong Howe (Photog)
  King Kaufman (Asst cam)
  Paul "Shug" Keeler (Set lighting foreman)
  A. Picciano (Asst set lighting foreman)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  William A. Horning (Art dir assoc)
  Edwin B. Willis (Art dir assoc)
Film Editor: Blanche Sewell (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Stan Hutchinson (Asst props)
  Jack Ackerman (Asst props)
Costumes: Dolly Tree (Ward)
Music: Victor Baravalle (Orch cond)
  Jerome Kern (Mus specially composed by)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Production Misc: Frank Huzar (Elec)
  Lloyd Ryan (Elec)
  A. Kime (Elec)
  George Lee (Props)
  Laura Hope Crews (Advisory asst)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. 15/5/1935 dd/mm/yyyy LP5554 Yes

PCA NO: 869
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Medical
Subjects (Major): Alcoholism
  Attempted suicide
Subjects (Minor): English
  Mental illness
  New York City

Note: According to a 24 Mar 1935 NYT news item, Merle Oberon was originally set for the part that eventually went to Maureen O'Sullivan. HR pre-production news items indicate that Mady Christians, Irene Dunne and Henry Hull were announced for leading roles at various times. HR production charts and news items list actors George Andre Beranger, Bobby Watson, Arthur Byron, George Irving, J. P. McGowan, Earl Eby, Inez Palange and Jim Farley in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A Dec 1934 HR news item noted that actress Helen Gahagan was "approached" for a part, but she did not appear in the film. Another HR news item notes that M-G-M got past the censors a scene in which a scantily clad "Lady Godiva" enters a dress ball by having her dressed in cellophane. The file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains a letter sent from the PCA to M-G-M on 11 Mar 1935, in which the PCA suggested that the studio omit the expression, "He's a little effeminate," and warned against any "indication of effiminacy in the portrayal of Ramos." In addition, the PCA noted that some censor boards would likely delete any reference to "kidneys," explaining that "it [the organ] seems to have some unpleasant connotation in the public mind." 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   1 Jun 35   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Nov 34   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Dec 34   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Dec 34   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Feb 35   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Mar 35   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Mar 35   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Mar 35   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Mar 35   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Mar 35   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Mar 35   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Apr 35   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Apr 35   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   2 May 35   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   3 May 37   p. 14.
Motion Picture Herald   27 Apr 35   p. 43.
Motion Picture Herald   18 May 35   p. 47.
MPSI   1 May 35   p. 44.
New York Times   24-Mar-35   
New York Times   1 Jun 35   p. 18.
Variety   5 Jun 35   p. 15.

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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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