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Their Mad Moment
Alternate Title: Mi Ășltimo amor
Director: Chandler Sprague (Dir)
Release Date:   12 Jul 1931
Production Date:   began 7 or 10 Nov 1930
Duration (in mins):   55
Duration (in feet):   5,161
Duration (in reels):   7
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Cast:   Dorothy Mackaill (Emily Stanley)  
    Warner Baxter (Esteban Cristera)  
    ZaSu Pitts (Miss Dibbs)  
    Nance O'Neil (Grand Mere)  
    Lawrence Grant (Sir Harry Congers)  
    Leon Janney (Narcio)  
    John St. Polis (Hotel manager)  
    Nella Walker (Suzanne Stanley)  
    Mary Doran (Stancia)  

Summary: American Suzanne Stanley, who is nearly broke, has taken her stepdaughter Emily to Biarritz to look for a wealthy husband. Emily agrees to end a short-lived romance with a Basque boatman, Esteban Cristera, and accept the marriage proposal from a man she does not love, Sir Harry Congers, whom she considers to be sweet, but pompous. Annoyed with Sir Harry, she goes to her hotel room, where Esteban enters through a window. He asks her to be his wife and come to his hacienda in the mountains to meet his grandmother, who is the head of his clan. While Dibbs, Emily's cousin, encourages her to go, Emily confesses that although she loves Esteban, she hasn't the courage to accept him as he is; however, when Suzanne rebukes her for associating with a peasant, Emily resolves to accompany Esteban and, in her words, live her whole lifetime in the next few days before her wedding to Sir Harry. On the mountain roads during a rainstorm, Emily hits her head on the windshield when the car skids. Esteban takes her to an inn, and because there are no women to help, he assists her in removing her soaked clothing. When she learns that a woman in his village, Stancia, is in love with him, she encourages him to stay the night with her, but he leaves the room, saying that he loves her and that he is afraid of himself. At the hacienda, Esteban's grandmother cautions him that Emily is not of their kind, but he reminds her of his own mother, also not of their kind, whom "Grand Mere" loved. Grand Mere warns Emily of the hardness of a Basque woman's life, and when Stancia describes this life of work, scrubbing, feeding the men and bearing children, Emily says she envies a woman like Stancia, who welcomes such a life with Esteban. Feeling out of place, Emily sneaks away at night and drives back to Biarritz. Esteben defends her to Grand Mere and Stancia and blames himself for not being satisfied to take romance as he finds it. On the day that her wedding to Sir Harry is to take place, Emily, upset that he vows to teach her to hunt despite her assertion that she does not like to kill, leaves the hotel for one last hour of freedom. Esteban finds her in a park, and when she explains that she believes love to be a luxury she cannot afford, he frightens her with a description of the lonely life of those who live without love. He says he will not let her go, and overcome, she asks him to take her back to the mountains; however, he vows to take her to another place, but will not say anymore, and she agrees to go. Esteban rows her in his boat to a yacht on which they set sail for England. Dibbs, Suzanne and Sir Harry, after watching them through binoculars from the hotel, learn that Esteban made a fortune in America and that he is back in Spain for his usual return to his home for the harvest. As Dibbs, who is tickled by the irony, takes a last look, the happy couple sails away. 

Production Company: Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Chandler Sprague (Dir)
  Horace Hough (Asst dir)
  Hamilton MacFadden (Dir of retakes)
Producer: Al Rockett (Assoc prod)
Writer: Leon Gordon (Cont and dial)
  Lynn Starling (Contr wrt)
  Lajos Biro (Contr wrt)
  John Farrow (Contr wrt)
  Paul Perez (Contr wrt)
Photography: Dan Clark (Photog)
  Arthur L. Todd (Photog)
Art Direction: Stephen Goosson (Art dir)
Film Editor: Alexander Troffey (Ed)
Costumes: Sophie Wachner (Cost)
Sound: Alfred Bruzlin (Sd rec)
  George P. Costello (Sd rec)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the book Basquerie by Eleanor Mercein (New York, 1927).
Authors: Eleanor Mercein

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Fox Film Corp. 15/6/1931 dd/mm/yyyy LP2317 Yes

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Melodrama
Subjects (Major): Basques
  Cultural conflict
  Marriage--Forced by circumstances
Subjects (Minor): Automobile accidents
  Harvest festivals
  Snobs and snobbishness
  Yachts and yachting

Note: The plot summary was based on a screen continuity in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, while the screen credits were taken from credit sheets in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, both of which are at the UCLA Theater Arts Library. Although the screen credits state that the film was "From the novel Basquerie by Eleanor Mercein," the book was actually a collection of six short stories, all of which were appeared originally in The Saturday Evening Post , beginning with the story "Basquerie" in the 3 Jul 1926 issue, and ending with the story "Nostalgia" in the 13 Aug 1927 issue. The working titles of this film were Basquerie and This Modern World . According to information in the Produced Scripts Collection and legal records, filming began in Nov 1930, under the direction of Chandler Sprague, with Arthur L. Todd as photographer and George P. Costello recording sound. New scenes for retakes were written in Jan and May 1931, and were directed by Hamilton MacFadden, photographed by Dan Clark and recorded by Alfred Bruzlin. No director was listed in the credits. A Spanish-language version was produced in 1931: see Mi Ășltimo amor . Twentieth Century-Fox remade Their Mad Moment in 1941 as The Perfect Snob , which was directed by Ray McCarey and starred Lynn Bari, Cornel Wilde and Anthony Quinn. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
EHW   20 Dec 30   p. 38.
Film Daily   17 Sep 31   p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald   3 Jan 31   pp. 47-54.
New York Times   19 Aug 33   p. 14.

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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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