Fanny (1961 film)

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Fanny
FannyPoster.jpg
Directed by Joshua Logan
Produced by Ben Kadish
Written by Julius J. Epstein
Musical:
S.N. Behrman
Joshua Logan
Play:
Marcel Pagnol
Starring Leslie Caron
Horst Buchholz
Maurice Chevalier
Charles Boyer
Music by Harold Rome
Cinematography Jack Cardiff
Edited by William Reynolds
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates June 28, 1961 (1961-06-28)
Running time 134 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $4.5 million (US/ Canada rentals) [1]

Fanny is a 1961 American drama film directed by Joshua Logan. The screenplay by Julius J. Epstein is based on the book for the 1954 stage musical of the same title by Logan and S.N. Behrman, which in turn had been adapted from Marcel Pagnol's trilogy: Marius (1929) and Fanny (1932), plays which he adapted to film a year or two later; and César, the film he wrote and directed for the screen in 1936 (and later adapted for the stage).

The film deleted all the songs from the 1954 stage musical, but the music by Harold Rome served as the underscore for the soundtrack, and the title tune is used as the Main Title theme. Although it had been composed for another medium, it was nominated for both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

Plot[edit]

César is a barkeeper in Marseille in the early 1920s. His 19-year-old son Marius works for him at his bar, but wants nothing more than to go to sea and leave his boring existence behind. The only thing holding him back is Fanny, an 18-year-old girl with whom he grew up. Fanny works selling fish with her mother down at the waterfront. Fanny has been in love with Marius her whole life, and flirts with him, but Marius always rejects her.

Fanny invites Marius to a Sunday night dance, but he rejects her once more. Unbeknownst to Fanny, Marius is planning to leave the next day, having secretly signed on as a sailor on a lengthy scientific expedition traveling around the world after being encouraged to do so by his friend known as the Admiral. Fanny is offended and leaves.

Meanwhile, elderly but wealthy merchant Panisse asks to meet with Fanny's mother Honorine, who believes he wants to propose to her. To her surprise, he wants to marry Fanny, even though he knows she loves someone else. Although disappointed, Honorine does not object, seeing as Panisse is worth 600,000 francs.

Fanny tells Marius she has rejected Panisse's proposal because she loves him and is willing to wait until he returns. Marius tells her he will be away for five years and to forget about him. They declare their love for each other and go to Fanny's house, which is empty while her mother is away.

The following morning, Honorine discovers Fanny and Marius in bed together. She and César begin to plan their children's wedding, but Fanny urges Marius to leave, even lying to him, telling him that she would rather marry a rich man like Panisse than she would him. But, in truth, she is fearful he eventually will grow to hate her for depriving him of this great opportunity.

Around two months after Marius goes off to sea, Fanny discovers she is pregnant with Marius's child and tells Panisse the news. He is happy to marry her anyway, overjoyed with the possibility of a male heir to carry on his name. They marry and Fanny gives birth to a boy to whom César is godfather. César, knowing the baby's true father, collaborates with Panisse to give the baby the name Césario Marius Panisse.

On Césario's first birthday, Panisse leaves on the train to Paris on business, and while he is gone, Marius returns on a short leave. He visits Fanny, and upon learning her child is his, apologizes to Fanny, as he knows now she said those things only to make him go. Marius tells her that he wants her back, but then César comes in before anything can happen. Panisse then arrives home early and says that he will not try to stop Fanny from leaving with Marius but he will not part with the child, knowing that Fanny won't leave without the boy. Fanny tells Marius she loves him but will not take Césario from Panisse, as it was Panisse who had been there for Fanny and Césario all along. César advises his son the father is "the one who loves," and Panisse loves this child and has been a wonderful father to him. Marius then departs with neither Fanny nor his child.

Ten years later, Césario is looking forward to his birthday party. After being taken to the waterfront with Fanny's mother, Césario wanders off and meets the Admiral. The Admiral takes the boy sailing without telling anyone and reunites him with Marius, though Césario has no idea who Marius is. Marius, who is now working in a garage, is overjoyed to see his son, but when Panisse is told the boy is missing, he is stricken and taken to his room. Fanny finds Césario with his father and is shocked. She announces that Panisse is dying and Marius drives them home to the dying Panisse.

When they arrive at the house, Panisse calls for Césario to sit with him, leaving Fanny and Marius together. Fanny explains to Marius she never told him about the baby because she fully expected him to take her with him and, when he didn't, she felt betrayed and was angry. Fanny then goes to Panisse and as he lies dying, Panisse dictates a letter asking Marius to marry his wife once he is dead, and be a father to Césario; his only request being that the boy keep his last name.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Several versions of the Pagnol works had been filmed prior to this adaptation. The original film trilogy in French was directed by Alexander Korda (Marius, 1931), Marc Allégret (Fanny, 1932) and Pagnol himself (César, 1936). There was a 1933 Italian film named Fanny,[2] the 1934 German film Der Schwarze Walfisch ("The Black Whale"),[3] and Port of Seven Seas, a 1938 American film directed by James Whale, also based on the trilogy.[4]

Jack Warner purchased the screen rights to the stage musical but eventually decided he wanted the film to exclude the songs because the popularity of movie musicals was on the wane. Released the same year as Fanny, West Side Story proved to be a box office hit.[5]

Screenwriter Julius J. Epstein had collaborated with Joshua Logan on Tall Story the previous year, but he initially declined the director's offer to adapt Fanny for the screen because he found Marius' motivation for leaving Marseille difficult to believe. Only after Logan assured him he could take liberties with the original script did he accept the assignment. He relied on Pagnol's plays for inspiration, but retained the ending of the musical,[5] which was quite different from the plot of Pagnol's original film César.

Prior to Warner's decision to film the property as a straight drama, Logan had offered Charles Boyer the role of César but the actor declined because he felt he could not sing and was unwilling to lip sync to someone else's voice. When the songs were dropped, he accepted the offer. He and Maurice Chevalier, cast as Panisse, were old friends but never had performed together, and both welcomed the opportunity to do so.[5]

Audrey Hepburn agreed to portray Fanny but eventually had to decline the role due to prior commitments. Assuming the French would dislike an English language interpretation of the Pagnol plays, Leslie Caron was hesitant to replace her, but she liked the script and accepted three weeks before principal photography began.[5]

Among the Marseille locations used for filming were Notre-Dame de la Garde and Vieux Port.

Critical reception[edit]

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times observed, "Whether fan of the Pagnol films or stage show, whether partial to music or no, you can't help but derive joy from this picture if you have a sense of humor and a heart. For Mr. Logan, with the aid of expert craftsmen and a cast of principals that we do not believe an act of divine cooperation could have greatly improved upon, has given the charming Marseilles folk play a stunning pictorial sweep, a deliciously atmospheric flavor and a flesh-touching intimacy. And, embraced by these graphic, sensuous virtues are the rich human, comic elements that flowed out of Pagnol's little pictures and glimmered upon the Broadway stage . . . To be sure, there are flaws in the compound. The cutting is often too abrupt, some scenes are confused by intercutting, and the tempo in the early phases is much too fast. Also, occasionally the actors are costumed too prettily, and the domestic magnificence of the Panisses in the last part is tasteless and absurd . . . [But] on the whole, the appropriate atmosphere of Marseilles is literally and colorfully conveyed — in excellent color, by the way. Perhaps there will be some prim objection to the lush emotionalism of it all and to the frankness of the musical nudging, but we loved it."[6]

Nominations[edit]

DVD release[edit]

Image Entertainment released the film on DVD on June 17, 2008. DVD RELEASE UK BY LUXIN - November 18, 2013

See also[edit]

  • Fanny, the 1932 original film version.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69
  2. ^ Fanny (1933) at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Der Schwarze Walfisch at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Hayward, Susan and Vincendeau, Ginette, French Film, Texts and Contexts. London: Routledge 1990. ISBN 0-415-00131-5, p. 82
  5. ^ a b c d Fanny at Turner Classic Movies
  6. ^ New York Times review

External links[edit]