The Male Animal

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The Male Animal
Male animalmp.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Elliott Nugent
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Written by Stephen Morehouse Avery
Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Starring Henry Fonda
Olivia de Havilland
Joan Leslie
Music by Heinz Roemheld
Cinematography Arthur Edeson
Edited by Thomas Richards
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates April 4, 1942 (1942-04-04)
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Male Animal (1942) is a Warner Brothers film starring Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Leslie.[1][2]

The film was based on a hit 1940 Broadway play of the same name written by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent. The screenplay was written by Stephen Morehouse Avery, Julius J. Epstein, and Philip G. Epstein, based on Nugent and Thurber's play. The film was also directed by Elliott Nugent.

Plot[edit]

Tommy Turner (Fonda) is an English teacher at football-crazed Midwestern University. Although he is uninvolved with the politics of the day, Tommy suddenly finds himself the center of a free-speech debate on campus. An editorial in a student magazine praises him for planning to read Bartolomeo Vanzetti's sentencing statement to his class as an example of eloquent composition, even in broken English composed by a non-professional.

The school's conservative trustees, led by Ed Keller (Eugene Pallette) threaten to fire Tommy if he doesn't withdraw the reading from his lecture. The subject of free speech and Tommy's dilemma of conscience anchor the dramatic subplot's social significance. The lighter comic triangle plot concerns a return visit to attend the big football game by Joe Ferguson (Jack Carson), a former football hero and onetime love interest of Turner's wife Ellen (de Havilland). Joe is recently divorced and he rekindles Ellen's romantic notions at the very moment when her marriage to Tommy is being tested by the events on campus.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Gene Tierney, who had starred as Patricia Stanley in the original Broadway production, was unable to appear in the film because she was contracted to star in John Ford's movie version of Tobacco Road. Don DeFore, another member of the Broadway cast, repeated his role in the film. Co-writer Elliott Nugent played the lead role on the stage before coming to Hollywood to direct Henry Fonda in the film version.

Remake[edit]

The Male Animal was loosely reworked by Warner Brothers as a musical called She's Working Her Way Through College (1952), starring Virginia Mayo and Ronald Reagan. In this adaptation, the characters' names are changed. Also, the political theme is discarded in favor of a conflict surrounding the professor's attempt to mount a musical play featuring a student who is discovered to be a former burlesque dancer.

The film earned an estimated $2.4 million at the North American box office in 1952.[3]

The film features Gene Nelson and Phyllis Thaxter in the cast, as well as Don DeFore who had also been in The Male Animal.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Variety film review; March 4, 1942, page 8.
  2. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; March 7, 1942, page 38.
  3. ^ 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953

External links[edit]