The Male Animal
|The Male Animal|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Elliott Nugent|
|Produced by||Hal B. Wallis|
|Written by||Stephen Morehouse Avery
Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Olivia de Havilland
|Music by||Heinz Roemheld|
|Editing by||Thomas Richards|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release dates||April 4, 1942|
|Running time||101 minutes|
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.
Tommy Turner (Fonda) is an English teacher at football-crazed Midwestern University in this comedy-drama. Although he is uninvolved with the politics of the day, Turner suddenly finds himself the center of a free-speech debate on campus. An editorial in a student magazine reveals that he plans to read Bartolomeo Vanzetti's sentencing statement to his class as an example of English composition.
The school's conservative trustees threaten to fire him if he doesn't withdraw the reading from his lecture. The subject of free speech and Turner's dilemma of conscience anchor the film's drama. A lighter subplot concerns a return visit by Joe Ferguson (Jack Carson), a football hero and former love interest of Turner's wife (de Havilland) at the very moment when their marriage is being tested by the events on campus.
- Henry Fonda as Tommy Turner
- Olivia de Havilland as Ellen Turner
- Joan Leslie as Patricia Stanley
- Jack Carson as Joe Ferguson
- Eugene Pallette as Ed Keller
- Herbert Anderson as Michael Barnes
- Hattie McDaniel as Cleota
- Don DeFore as Wally Myers
- Gig Young as a student (uncredited)
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.
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.
- The Male Animal at the Internet Movie Database
- The Male Animal at allmovie
- The Male Animal at the TCM Movie Database
- The Male Animal at the Internet Broadway Database
- Song, "We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan"
- 1953 Best Plays radio adaptation of original play at Internet Archive