They Knew What They Wanted (play)

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They Knew What They Wanted is a 1924 play written by Sidney Howard that tells the story of Tony, an aging Italian winegrower in the California Napa Valley, who proposes by letter to Amy, a San Francisco waitress who waited on him once. Fearing that she will find him too old and ugly, Tony sends her a photograph of Joe, his young hired hand, instead of himself. When Amy comes to the vineyard she discovers Tony has lied to her and problems ensue between Tony, Amy, and Joe. The play premiered at the Garrick Theatre on 24 November 1924 and closed in October 1925, after 192 performances.

The play was awarded the 1925 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The original Broadway cast included Richard Bennet as Tony, Pauline Lord as Amy, and Glenn Anders as Joe. The 1926 London adaptation included Sam Livesey as Tony, Tallulah Bankhead as Amy, and Glenn Anders reprising his role as Joe. They Knew What They Wanted has been performed subsequently numerous times, including a critically acclaimed Broadway production in 1975 that was directed by Stephen Porter.

Early film versions of the play include The Secret Hour (1928) starring Jean Hersholt and A Lady to Love (1930) starring Edward G. Robinson. A film of They Knew What They Wanted was made in 1940 by director Garson Kanin. The play was also adapted into a Broadway musical, The Most Happy Fella in 1956 by Frank Loesser, who wrote the book, music, and lyrics.[1]


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