The Housekeeper's Daughter

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The Housekeeper's Daughter
Directed by Hal Roach
Produced by Hal Roach
Written by Donald Henderson Clarke (novel)
Rian James
Gordon Douglas
Jack Jevne
Claude Martin
Starring Joan Bennett
Adolphe Menjou
John Hubbard
Music by Amedeo De Filippi
Lucien Moraweck
Cinematography Norbert Brodine
Edited by William H. Ziegler
Hal Roach Studios
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • October 26, 1939 (1939-10-26)
Running time
80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Housekeeper's Daughter is a 1939 comedy film directed and produced by Hal Roach. The film stars Joan Bennett, Adolphe Menjou and John Hubbard. The screenplay was written by Rian James, Gordon Douglas, Jack Jevne and Claude Martin, based on a novel by Donald Henderson Clarke.

It was the film debut of Victor Mature.


Hilda is fed up with her life as a gun moll to gangster Floyd and visits her mother, housekeeper for the cultured Randall family. Professor Randall and his wife go on vacation, leaving behind sheltered son Robert to embark upon a career as a reporter at Hilda's urging. Soon after, Benny, a feeble-minded flower vendor, follows showgirl Gladys Fontaine when Floyd forces her to join him on his houseboat to take Hilda's place.

Fearing for Gladys' safety, Benny poisons a cup of coffee intended for the gangster, but Gladys drinks it instead. Benny watches in horror as Floyd tosses the dead girl's body into the river. The next morning, Robert reads about Gladys' death and attaches himself to hard-drinking, womanizing ace crime reporter Deakon Maxwell and his photographer, Ed O'Malley.

The trio go to police headquarters, where every bum on the waterfront at the time of the murder has been rounded up for questioning. Benny confesses to accidentally killing Gladys but is ridiculed and not believed. Robert takes pity on the little man and befriends him. After a night of drinking with Deakon and Ed at his expense, and learning from Benny that Gladys was thrown from the houseboat, the drunken Robert calls his editor and reports the details.

Waking up the next morning with no memory of the evening's events, Robert finds that his story has scooped the other newspapers and that he is being hailed as a true newspaperman. Robert's byline story leads Floyd to believe that the reporter has the goods on him, and he orders him eliminated.

Floyd's gang converges on the Randall house, where he finds and menaces Hilda. Benny makes more of his fatal coffee to protect her. Deakon and Ed are drunkenly shoot fireworks from the roof and, believing them to be gun shots, the gangsters open fire. As the mobsters begin dropping dead from Benny's poisoned coffee, the police come to the rescue and Robert wins the affections of Hilda.



It was the first of a five-picture deal between Hal Roach and United Artists.[1]

Victor Mature was cast after being spotted in a stage play, To Quito and Back. He impressed Hal Roach so much that Roach cast Mature in the lead for One Million Years BC.[2]

In 1957 it was announced Hal Roach, Jr. would remake the film as a musical.[3] However this never happened.


  1. ^ 32 Films for United Artists The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 08 May 1939: 17.
  2. ^ Tentin' Tonight, As Usual, Vic Will Be a Star: Rebellious Young Man Quits Business to Starve, but Wins The Washington Post (1923-1954) [Washington, D.C] 04 Sep 1939: 12.
  3. ^ MOVIELAND EVENTS: Boach Jr. Planning Musical Feature Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 Dec 1957: C12.

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