AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Palm Springs
Alternate Title: Palm Springs Affair
Director: Aubrey Scotto (Dir)
Release Date:   5 Jun 1936
Production Date:   began early Jan 1936 at General Service Studios; added scenes: 5 Feb 1936
Duration (in mins):   70-72
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Cast:   Frances Langford (Joan Smith)  
    Sir Guy Standing (Captain Smith [the Earl of Blythstone])  
    Ernest Cossart (Starkey [The butler])  
    Smith Ballew (Slim)  
    David Niven (George Brittel)  
    E. E. Clive ([Bruce] Morgan)  
    Spring Byington (Aunt Letty)  
    Sterling Holloway (Oscar)  
    Grady Sutton (Bud)  
    Sarah Edwards (Miss [Agatha] Pinchon)  
    Maidel Turner (Mrs. Baxter)  
    David Worth (Leonard)  
    Ann Doran (School girl)  
    Margaret LaMarr (School girl)  
    Mary Bovard (School girl)  
    Jean Allen (School girl)  
    Ruth Lamb (School girl)  
    Maxine Westrom (School girl)  
    June Horn (School girl)  
    Ella McKenzie (School girl)  
    Betty Auken (School girl)  
    Grace Goodall (Teacher)  
    Lee Phelps (Bartender)  
    Eddie Tamblyn (Soda clerk)  
    Annabelle Brudie (Twin girl)  
    Marianne Brudie (Twin girl)  
    Etta McDaniel (Mammy)  
    Nell Craig (Maid)  
    Frances Morris (Maid)  
    Ed Moose (Motorcycle cop)  
    Mary Jane Temple (Nurse)  
    Fred "Snowflake" Toones (Porter)  
    Curly Wright (Greek)  
    Cyril Ring (Reception clerk)  
    Henry Iblings (Male quartette)  
    Kirby Hoon (Male quartette)  
    Marshall Sohl (Male quartette)  
    Lewis Yoeskel (Male quartette)  
    Joe North (Valet)  
    Russ Clark (Pilot)  
    Bert Gale (Caterer)  
    Fuzzy Knight    
    Jack Mower    

Summary: English widower Captain Smith, really the Earl of Blythstone, is broke. His daughter Joan, who is enrolled in Wellescliffe finishing school, is unaware of her father's title, but nonetheless believes her father is wealthy. Joan, who will graduate in the spring, has had a host of proposals from young men, but has turned them all down. When she needs money for a dress for a school dance, Joan shoots craps in the locker room with her classmates and is expelled for gambling. Planning to surprise her father in Palm Springs, Joan arrives unannounced and immediately asks to be taken to the best hotel, but fails to find her father there. Joan finally locates her father inside the Mirage hotel, standing guard while his valet Starkey acts as croupier. A rich young Englishman named George Brittel tells Joan the man she has pointed out is a crook and a cheat, unaware that he is her father. Joan scolds her father for humiliating himself so she can live in luxury and tells him she is going to look for a rich husband. Starkey agrees with her plan and spreads a rumor that she is Lady Sylvia Dustin, daughter of the Earl of Blythstone. The next morning, Joan meets a handsome cowboy named Slim, who tells her that the crowd at the Mirage are all fakes. Joan and Slim spend the morning riding together, and he tells her that Brittel's aunt Letty controls all his money. Joan later gets flowers from Brittel, who now believes she is Lady Sylvia traveling incognito. That night, Slim sends Joan a colt, and they meet in the moonlight, where he swears his love and kisses her. She must leave him for a date with Brittel, however, whom she believes will propose to her the next day. Her father warns her to marry for love, but when Brittel proposes, Joan accepts, and a reception is planned for the next day. Aunt Letty is suspicious, however, and asks a friend of hers, the British Consul in Vancouver, Bruce Morgan, to come to Palm Springs to expose the impostor. Morgan, an explorer and old friend of the captain, arrives from Ecuador and is surprised to see the captain, whom he thought had died from a bullet after the armistice. The captain asks Bruce to keep his earldom a secret and help him expose the lady who is posing as his daughter. The captain admits he lost a good deal of money playing roulette in Monte Carlo and now uses the name Captain Smith. At the reception, the captain and Bruce get terribly drunk, and when Bruce toasts "Lady Sylvia Dustin's" father, Joan pretends to know Bruce. Aunt Letty, astonished but nonetheless convinced of Joan's aristocratic lineage, announces the engagement. But when Bruce introduces Joan as the earl's daughter, the captain denounces knowing her in order to ruin her chances at marrying Brittel for money. Joan runs away in tears and when Brittel demands the truth about Joan's title, she realizes social status is all that matters to him. Making her father very happy, Joan goes to Slim in the moonlight, where they again kiss. 

Production Company: Walter Wanger Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Paramount Productions, Inc.  
Director: Aubrey Scotto (Dir)
  George Blair (Asst dir)
Producer: Adolph Zukor (Pres)
Writer: Joseph Fields (Scr)
  Humphrey Pearson (Adpt)
Photography: James Van Trees (Photog)
Art Direction: Alexander Toluboff (Art dir)
Film Editor: Robert Simpson (Film ed)
Costumes: Helen Taylor (Cost)
Music: Boris Morros (Mus dir)
Sound: Earl Sitar (Sd)
Country: United States

Songs: "I Don't Want to Make History, I Want to Make Love," "Palm Springs," "Dreaming Out Loud" and "The Hills of Old Wyoming," words and music by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin; "Will I Ever Know," words and music by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel; "I'm in the Mood for Love," words and music by Dorothy Fields and James McHugh.
Composer: James McHugh
  Dorothy Fields
  Mack Gordon
  Ralph Rainger
  Harry Revel
  Leo Robin
Source Text: Based on the short story "Lady Smith" by Myles Connolly in Good Housekeeping (Aug 1936).
Authors: Myles Connolly

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Paramount Productions, Inc. 5/6/1936 dd/mm/yyyy LP6393 Yes

PCA NO: 2002
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System

Genre: Comedy-drama
Sub-Genre: with songs
Subjects (Major): Class distinction
  English in foreign countries
  Fathers and daughters
  Idle rich
  Impersonation and imposture
  Marriage--Forced by circumstances
  Palm Springs (CA)
  Romantic rivalry
Subjects (Minor): Cowboys
  Craps (Game)
  Finishing schools
  Hereditary tendencies

Note: A preview of this film, held 19 Sep 1936, was reviewed in Picturegoer under the title Palm Springs Affair . Myles Connolly's story may have been published for the first time in anticipation of the film's release. According to a news item in HR on 24 Jan 1936, ranch and corral set pieces were stolen from this film's location near Palmdale, CA. One of the thieves reportedly held a guard at gunpoint, while his two accomplices disassembled the set and loaded it into a truck. On 5 Feb 1936, HR stated that the film was shot at a "half-dozen locations," but not at Palm Springs itself. On 5 Feb, the company shot added scenes at Sunland, CA. HR announced on 25 Jan 1936 that Dick Talmadge, who was under contract at Reliable, was cancelling a deal to star in six additional pictures in order to direct second units for three Walter Wanger productions, of which Palm Springs was one. He does not receive credit for this film in contemporary sources, however, and it is unclear whether or not he worked on the film. This film marks New York radio emcee, balladist and orchestra leader Smith Ballew's first screen role. On 8 Jan 1936, HR reported that Jean Rouverol, on loan from Republic, had been added to the cast, and on 14 Jan, HR reported that June Horne (daughter of director Jimmy Horne) would make her screen debut in the film. Although both appear in a production chart on 20 Jan 1936, neither is listed on the film, in reviews, or in the Call Bureau Cast Service list, and it is unclear what parts they played, if any, in the film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   23 May 36   p. 3.
Film Daily   20 Jun 36   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jan 36   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jan 36   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Jan 36   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Jan 36   p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Jan 36   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Jan 36   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Feb 36   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   23 May 36   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   25 May 36   p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald   1 Feb 36   p. 45.
Motion Picture Herald   6 Jun 36   p. 56.
Variety   24 Jun 36   p. 29.

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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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