Ten North Frederick (film)

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Ten North Frederick
Poster - 10 North Frederick 01.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Philip Dunne
Produced by Charles Brackett
Screenplay by Philip Dunne
Based on Ten North Frederick
1955 novel
by John O'Hara
Starring Gary Cooper
Geraldine Fitzgerald
Diane Varsi
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald
Edited by David Bretherton
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 22, 1958 (1958-05-22)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,550,000[1]

Ten North Frederick is a 1958 American drama film in CinemaScope starring Gary Cooper, written and directed by Philip Dunne. The screenplay is based on the 1955 novel of the same name by John O'Hara.


In April 1945, outside the titular address in the fictional town of Gibbsville, Pennsylvania, a radio reporter is describing the funeral of distinguished attorney Joseph Chapin (Gary Cooper). While his shrewish wife Edith (Geraldine Fitzgerald) delivers his eulogy, daughter Ann (Diane Varsi) thinks back to Joe's fiftieth birthday celebration five years earlier.

Via a flashback, we learn rebellious ne'er-do-well son Joby (Ray Stricklyn) has been expelled from boarding school and wants to pursue a career as a jazz musician, a decision Edith feels will harm the family's reputation. The ambitious woman is determined to get Joe elected lieutenant governor, and she uses her wealth, political connections, and social influence to achieve her goal.

Threatening this ambition is Ann's secret marriage to trumpet player Charley Bongiorno (Stuart Whitman), who seduced and impregnated the naive girl.

Corrupt power broker Mike Slattery (Tom Tully) and district attorney Lloyd Williams (Philip Ober) intervene. They threaten to charge Charley with statutory rape if he refuses to accept their bribe and agree to an annulment. Shortly after, Ann suffers a miscarriage, and when she learns her father condoned the deal that drove her husband away, she leaves home and moves to New York City.

Fearing repercussions from Ann's situation, party leaders refuse to back Joe in the election. He withdraws from the race, much to Edith's dismay. Angry with her husband, she reveals she once had an affair with Lloyd and bitterly tells him she wasted her life ministering to a failure.

Deeply depressed by the turn of events, Joe begins to drink heavily. On a business trip, he meets Ann's roommate, model Kate Drummond (Suzy Parker). The two fall into a relationship, and during a weekend getaway Joe presents her with a ruby, a Chapin family heirloom.

When the young woman's friends mistake Joe for her father, he realizes that he's unable to handle their huge age difference and ends the affair.

Joe's alcoholism takes its toll on his health but he refuses medical attention. Learning her father is dying, Ann returns home. Joe asks her about Kate. She tells him her roommate is about to wed, although she suspects Kate is in love with another man. Just before he dies, Joe realizes the man is himself.

At the funeral, Joby angrily accuses Slattery of betrayal and Edith of being responsible for Joe's decline. Later, just prior to Kate's wedding, Ann is helping her friend pack when she finds the ruby. She realizes her father was Kate's true love and that he experienced a brief period of happiness during his final years.



Spencer Tracy was originally cast in April 1957 as Joseph Chapin. Because of Tracy's repeated teaming with Katharine Hepburn, the film's producer Charles Brackett announced he was enthusiastic about casting Hepburn as his wife.[2] In May 1957, model-actress Suzy Parker told the press in an interview: "If I'm good in Kiss Them for Me with Cary Grant, Buddy Adler is going to give me a very good role in 10 North Frederick with Spencer Tracy.[3] Parker was eventually cast, which, according to insiders, did not satisfy Tracy, who left the production in November 1957. Tracy dismissed these rumours, saying:

"I don't even know her. The real reason I didn't want to make the picture is because, at long last, John Ford is getting ready to produce The Last Hurrah, the life of James Michael Curley, and I waited so long to get John and to do this story, which I want to do more than anything else. So, I couldn't run the risk of starting one picture and losing John Ford."[4]

Gary Cooper replaced Tracy in late November 1957. Shortly after, Diane Varsi was cast as his daughter.[5] During filming in December 1957, Varsi suffered a nervous breakdown, and following a collapse on the set, she was hospitalized for a week.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

In his review in the New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote that the film "has been so sharply reduced in scope from what it was in the novel and the backgrounds of its people have been so pruned that it fails to explain the whys of their troubles, into the middle of which we're suddenly thrown. This appears to be the fault of the writer-director, Philip Dunne. He has tried to do too much with visual shorthand . . . He barely introduces his hero . . . before he is bouncing us through three disappointments in the fellow's fifty-first year and then having him meet a beautiful model for a brief and futile fling at romance . . . The production has class and distinction in black-and-white CinemaScope, but the drama itself lacks those virtues." [7]

According to Variety: "The screen telling of the John O'Hara novel sacrifices detail and explanation at some loss to audience satisfaction." [8]

TV Guide awarded it 2½ out of a possible four stars and called it "a confusing movie from a complex book with a performance by Cooper that almost manages to save the story." [9]


Ten North Frederick was named Best Feature Film at the Locarno International Film Festival.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p251
  2. ^ "Hepburn May Land In Spencer Film" by Louella O. Parsons, Anderson Daily Bulletin, April 8, 1957, p. 15
  3. ^ "MGM Planning Big Production of 'Ben Hur' with Burt Lancaster" by Louella O. Parsons, Waterloo Daily Courier, May 22, 1957, p. 14
  4. ^ "Tracy Denies Rift Over Actress" by Louella O. Parsons, San Antonio Light, November 21, 1957, p. 40
  5. ^ "Mrs. Bing Cooking" by Louella O. Parsons, San Antonio Light, November 20, 1957, p. 48
  6. ^ "Actress in Hospital", The Oakland Tribune, December 23, 1957, p. 4
  7. ^ New York Times review
  8. ^ Variety review
  9. ^ TV Guide review
  10. ^ "Winners of the Golden Leopard". Locarno. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 

External links[edit]