Valiant Is the Word for Carrie

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Valiant Is the Word for Carrie
title card at the beginning of the film
Directed by Wesley Ruggles
Produced by Wesley Ruggles
Written by Claude Binyon (screenplay)
Barry Benefield (novel)
Starring Gladys George
Arline Judge
John Howard
Music by Frederick Hollander
Cinematography Leo Tover
Edited by Otho Lovering
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) October 2, 1936 (1936-10-02)
Running time 110 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Valiant Is the Word for Carrie is a 1936 film starring Gladys George, Arline Judge, John Howard, Dudley Digges, Harry Carey, Isabel Jewell, and Hattie McDaniel. The movie was adapted by Claude Binyon from the novel of the same name by Barry Benefield. It was directed by Wesley Ruggles.


Carrie Snyder (Gladys George) with Lady (Charlene Wyatt)

Carrie Snyder (Gladys George) is a prostitute, who is forced out of the fictional southern town of Crebillon, after forming a friendship with a young boy named Paul (Jackie Moran), whose dying mother (Janet Young) is unable to protest against her son visiting such a woman. After Carrie has left town Paul runs away from his abusive father (John Wray), and meets a girl named Lady (Charlene Wyatt) who has run away from a burning trainwreck, not wanting to go back to the people she was with. Carrie comes back for Paul and ends up taking Paul and Lady to New York with her. Carrie gets an apartment and starts a successful chain of laundry stores. Eventually they become very rich and Lady (Arline Judge) grows very attracted to Paul (John Howard). However Paul feels obligated to take care of a young woman named Lili (Isabel Jewell) whose brother's death he caused (the brother had been pushing Paul to try to get on the train, but when Paul pushed back, the train door closed with the brother on the outside with his coat stuck in the train door, causing him to get dragged along with the train and his legs to be run over). Lilli pretends to love Paul because he is rich, which Carrie is able to see, but which Paul does not. She devises a plan to make Lilli leave, if she will bribe some people to help get Lilli's true love out of jail, she will leave Paul. They go to break the man out of jail, but they are caught. Lilli is shot dead and Carrie gets sent to jail. An old lawyer friend (Harry Carey) vows to fight for her freedom, but Carrie decides to plead guilty, because she doesn't want Lady to know about her past (her life as a prostitute would be dragged out in court if her case went to trial) and also because she fears that this damage to her reputation would also be bad for the reputation of the children. The lawyer ends by remarking to Paul's employer (Dudley Digges) that, "valiant is the word for Carrie".


  • Gladys George as Carrie Snyder, is a prostitute who is forced from her home in the south. She takes Paul Darnley and Lady to the city to start a new life with her. She opens up a cleaning business, which becomes quite successful. Later she assists Lilli with breaking her lover out of jail, in order to get her away from Paul. The plan doesn't work and Carrie is sent to jail. She decides to plead guilty to protect the children from being scorned by her past life.
  • Arline Judge as Lady, loves and admires Paul, but he is too busy taking care of Lilli to notice. She ends up marrying Mat Burdon.
  • John Howard as Paul Darnley, is shoved by Franz Eipper into a crowded train. After he shoves Franz back, he causes Franz to be run over by the train when his coat becomes stuck in the door. Paul feels incredibly guilty about this and spends the next few years taking care of Franz's sister, Lilli. It is not until after Carrie risks her life to get Lilli away from Paul that Paul sees how much Lilli took advantage of him. (See below for later life.)
  • Dudley Digges as Dennis Ringrose, Paul's employer.
  • Harry Carey as Phil Yonne, an old lawyer friend of Carrie's.
  • Isabel Jewell as Lilli Eipper, sister of Franz Eipper. After her brother is killed in a train accident, inadvertently caused by Paul Darnley, she makes Paul feel very guilty and uses him to try to get money. She plans to marry Paul and take all of his money, but tells Carrie that she will leave him now if Carrie will pay to get her lover out of jail. Carrie agrees and the two go to break Lilli's lover (a doctor) out of jail. However one of the people they paid off double crosses them, and Lilli is shot dead.
  • Jackie Moran as Young Paul Darnley, an eccentric young boy who likes taking care of stray cats and the like. He befriends Carrie, a town outcast, but is beaten by his father, who disapproves of her. He runs away from home and lives by the river for a while. One night, he meets Lady at the sight of a train crash, and he reluctantly agrees to let her stay with him. Eventually he moves to the City with Carrie and Lady. (See above for adult life.)
  • Charlene Wyatt as Young Lady, a young girl who is being transported from an unknown location to an unknown location. She does not like the people she is with, however, and begs Paul Darnley to let her come with him after she meets him when the train she is on crashes. When Carrie Snyder comes back to take Paul to the city with her, she initially does not want to take Lady as well, but Paul convinces her to change her mind. When they move to the city Carrie tries to get Lady to go by Lala Desolles, insisting that "there's no such name as Lady", but Lady refuses. (See above for adult life.)
  • John Wray as George Darnley, Paul Darnley's father. He beats his son after finding out that he has made friends with the town whore.
  • William Collier, Sr. as Ed Moresby, a town councilman who convinces Carrie to leave town before she is forced out.
  • Hattie McDaniel as Ellen Belle, the Darnley's servant. Carrie gives all of her old clothes to Belle's daughter, and it is Belle who informs Carrie of Paul's situation at home.
  • Lew Payton as Lon Olds, a horse-and-buggie driver in Crebillon. He goes to Carrie's new home in the city to inform her that Paul Darnley has run away from home.
  • Maude Eburne as Maggie Devlin, works with Paul.
  • Grady Sutton as Mat Burdon, a man Lady meets and Hastily marries.
  • Janet Young as Mrs. Darnley, Paul Darnley's dying mother. She begs her husband to stop beating Paul, but is bedridden and unable to stop him.
  • Adrienne D'Ambricourt as Madame Odette Desolles, owner of the original Desolles laundry shop that Carrie buys. Carrie decides to keep the Desolles name for marketing purposes, and eventually the chain becomes quite successful. Desolles is alsoselected to become Lady's last name.
  • Helen Lowell as Mrs. Wadsworth, a town councilwoman in Crebillon.
  • Bernard Suss as Franz Eipper, a man who is pushing and shoving to try to get on to a train. After Paul shoves him back, his (Franz's) coat gets stuck in the train door, with Franz outside the train. This causes Franz to be dragged along with the train and after a few yards his legs are runover. Paul pulls the emergency brake to make the train stop, and yells for medical help, but it is too late. After his death, his sister, Lilli, uses his death to make Paul Darnley feel obligated to take care of her.

Literary antecedents[edit]

The film was preceded by two literary versions by Barry Benefield - a short story and later a novel based on it.

Short story[edit]

Benefield's original short story, entitled "With Banners Blowing", was published in the Woman's Home Companion, and later appeared in two collections under the title "Carrie Snyder".

The original story focused entirely on events in the (fictional) town of Crebillion, Louisiana. Carrie Snyder is 31-year old, lives in a cottage at the edge of town and maintains herself as a prostitute, having a circle of regular customers. She has plenty of free time to cultivate her beloved flower garden, and is content with this life. However, though rather fond of such customers such as US Marshall Phil Yonne, who treat her "like gentlemen", she never felt love for anybody - until the seven-year old Paul comes in to ask for a drink of water.

Carrie becomes instantly and deeply attached to the clever, sensitive, warm-hearted boy who comes again and again on secret visits, deposits with her his box of "treasures" which his father tried to confiscate and lets her take care of wounded creatures which he found - a tomcat and an owl. The African-American taxi driver Lon is Carrie and Paul's friend and confidant, keeping their secret. (Strangely for modern sensibilities, the word "nigger" is repeatedly used for this highly positive and sympathetic character, clearly without any hint of pejorative intent.)

Deeply jealous of Paul's mother, who can have him every day, Carrie is aware that this friendship would not last, and that the town's established society would cut it off once discovered. And so indeed it does come to pass, and even worse than Carrie feared. Hearing that Paul was severely beaten by his father, and witnessing him being chased and cruelly teased and hazed by a gang of other boys, Carrie realises that for Paul's sake she must leave the town, let her beloved garden deteriorate, and never come back. The original story ends poignantly with Carrie going into a self-imposed exile, with the clear implication that she would never see Paul again.


Barry Benefield later took up the story and made a revised version of it the first chapter of what became the 1936 novel Valiant Is the Word for Carrie.

Bar minor differences, the film's plot, as described above, followed the novel's plot up to the moment of the attempted jail break. From that point on, however, novel and film drastically diverge. In the original novel, the jailbreak succeeded without a hitch, and Lili and her lover were able to escape to Canada and start a new life there. Carrie returned unscathed to New York, her part in the jail break completely unknown. Later on, Lady divorced the Baltimore millionaire Mat Burdon whom she married to spite Paul; Lady and Paul then married and lived happily ever after; and at the end of the novel Carrie, who managed to pull her laundry business through the slump of 1929, is prepared to play loving foster grandmother to their first child.

However, the germ of the film's ending - with the jail break going wrong and Carrie being arrested and facing trial - is present in the novel as a conversation about "what might have been" and "how things might have gone wrong".


Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times called it "more moral and uplifting than Pollyanna" and "irresistibly attractive". He criticized the running time for being almost two hours long. He concluded that "The misfortune is that "valiant" is only one of the "words for "Carrie"; another would be "disproportionate." The picture takes too long, although doing it well, to introduce a little which is not well done at all."[1]

Gladys George was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1936.[2]

Cultural references[edit]

In 1938, the Three Stooges made a short called Violent Is the Word for Curly, a takeoff on the name of this then-popular film.[3]


  1. ^ Nugent, Frank S. (October 8, 1936). "Valiant Is the Word For Carrie (1936). Gladys George Returns to the Screen in 'Valiant Is the Word for Carrie,' at the Paramount.". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Valiant Is the Word For Carrie - Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2010. 
  3. ^ Solomon, Jon (2002). The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion, p. 133; Comedy III Productions, Inc. ISBN 0-9711868-0-4

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