Kitty (1945 film)
Theatrical poster to Kitty (1945)
|Directed by||Mitchell Leisen|
|Produced by||Mitchell Leisen|
|Written by||Rosamond Marshall (novel)
|Music by||Victor Young|
|Cinematography||Daniel L. Fapp|
|Edited by||Alma Macrorie|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$3.5 million (US rentals)|
Kitty is a 1945 film, a costume drama set in London during the 1780s, directed by Mitchell Leisen, based on the novel of the same name by Rosamond Marshall (published in 1943), with a screenplay by Karl Tunberg. It stars Paulette Goddard, Ray Milland, Constance Collier, Patric Knowles, Reginald Owen, and Cecil Kellaway as the English painter Thomas Gainsborough. In a broad interpretation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion story line, the film tells the rags-to-riches story of a young guttersnipe, cockney girl.
In 1783, Kitty (Goddard) is caught trying to pick the pocket of the painter Thomas Gainsborough (Kellaway). He offers to pay her more to sit for a portrait for him. There, she attracts the attention of Sir Hugh Marcy (Milland) and the Earl of Carstairs (Knowles). Sir Hugh, upon finding out her real social status, offers her a job as a scullery maid. Kitty learns that he is impoverished, having lost his post in the foreign office due to a scandal.
Gainsborough's portrait, The Anonymous Lady, creates a stir, as people try to guess who the subject is. The Duke of Malmunster buys both that painting and Gainsborough's The Blue Boy. When the duke asks Gainsborough who the model is, Sir Hugh claims she is his aunt's ward. The duke admits he may have been mistaken in having Sir Hugh dismissed from his position (in favor of the duke's nephew), and in exchange for an introduction to Kitty "Gordon", offers to reinstate him. Sir Hugh, who had planned to avenge his dismissal, changes his mind in favor of monetary gain.
He and his aunt, Lady Susan Dowitt, teach Kitty how to pose as a lady of fashion. What Sir Hugh does not count on is the attraction Kitty develops for him. When Hugh is sent to debtors' prison, Kitty charms the wealthy ironmonger Jonathan Selby into marrying her, using part of her dowry to free Hugh. Hugh is furious, but has to accept the situation.
Hugh and Lady Susan soon spend the rest of the dowry and go back into debt. Kitty breaks into her husband's strongbox to get the pair out of debt, but Selby finds out and starts beating her. Seeing this, Kitty's loyal maid kills him, then commits suicide.
Kitty inherits a large fortune and wants to find happiness with Hugh, but he is determined to marry her off to the duke and reclaim his career. Kitty gives in. After the honeymoon, the duke lets it become known that Kitty is pregnant (though the father is actually Selby). After the birth of the boy, the future 10th duke, the old dissolute 9th duke dies, leaving Kitty extremely wealthy.
Kitty finally makes it clear to Hugh she married twice out of love for him. He, however, does not consider the relationship as anything other than business. The Earl of Carstairs, freshly returned from India, gets Kitty to agree to marry him. Hugh finally comes to his senses, but is unable to convince Kitty to break her engagement. Finally, he brings Old Meg to see her and Carstairs. Kitty tells Meg to tell all she knows about her old life, but Carstairs' love is unshaken. Defeated, Hugh genuinely congratulates Kitty and leaves. She realizes then that she will always love him and goes after him.
- Paulette Goddard as Kitty. To acquire a Cockney accent, Goddard shared a room with the mother of actress Ida Lupino, who had quite a thick one for a time, and learned diction from Constance Collier. Upon seeing this film, the director Jean Renoir decided to cast Goddard in his film The Diary of a Chambermaid.
- Ray Milland as Sir Hugh Marcy
- Patric Knowles as Brett, Earl of Carstairs
- Reginald Owen as Duke of Malmunster
- Cecil Kellaway as Thomas Gainsborough
- Constance Collier as Lady Susan Dowitt, Sir Hugh's aunt
- Dennis Hoey as Jonathan Selby
- Sara Allgood as Old Meg, the head of the thieving band to which Kitty belongs at the beginning
- Eric Blore as Dobson, Sir Hugh's servant
- Gordon Richards as Sir Joshua Reynolds
- Michael Dyne as H. R. H. The Prince of Wales
- Edgar Norton as Earl of Campton
- Patricia Cameron as Elaine Carlisle
- Percival Vivian as Dr. Holt
- Mary Gordon as Nanny
- Anita Sharp-Bolster as Mullens (credited as Anita Bolster)
- Heather Wilde as Lil
- Charles Coleman as Majordomo
- Mae Clarke as Molly
Director Leisen worked very hard with the set and costume designers to create a historically correct picture of 18th century England. The California portrait painter Theodore Lukits served as technical adviser for the film's artistic scenes and painted the portrait of Kitty that is seen in the film. Lukits knew Ray Milland because he had painted his wife's portrait in 1942.
As of early 2013, the film is not available on DVD and is rather hard to find on VHS, although on February 4, 2010, it was shown on Turner Classic Movies.
- "60 Top Grossers of 1946", Variety 8 January 1947 p8
- "NY Times: Kitty". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- "Recreates 'Kitty" Role". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 26, 1946. p. 21. Retrieved September 29, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.