CMBA Blogathon: Kitty (1945) — 22 Comments

  1. A wonderful post on a film I've yet to see — I had hoped to see it at UCLA last fall, where I saw Chierichetti introduce a few other Leisen films, but alas, I couldn't attend the night this was shown.

    Love Goddard and Milland and after reading your fascinating post I'm all the more interested in seeing it!

    Best wishes,

  2. Fantastic history on this film. It's been far too long since I've seen it and I need to do so again. I must admit the first dust jacket photo you show makes it look like Ray Milland is asleep … I'm sure that's not what they were going for, considering the subject matter 🙂 Excellent post!

  3. The sign of a good post is hanging on every word about a movie I've haven't seen yet. I loved reading about the background on this. Hopefully TCM will show it again.

    I've always liked Paulette Goddard and think she would have made a good Scarlett O'Hara. A look at DeMille's "Reap the Wild Wind" where she plays a rebellious Southern gal, confirms this.

    Great post, Jim.

  4. Jim, I've had a soft spot for Paulette Goddard since I was a lad. I agree that this is her best performance. It's too bad she didn't get more roles as good as this one, because as you say she seemed to give each role her complete devotion. I too have never understood the complaints of Wilder and Sturges about Leisen. I think he was one of the best Hollywood directors of sophisticated light comedy. Maybe the animosity was more personal than professional. Milland was impressive too–and quite believable–as a cad. My biggest regret about the film is that it wasn't shot in color.

  5. Thanks, all! CW: According to Leisen in the Chierichetti book, the fan scene was written into the script after the Paramount research department found an old pamphlet describing the uses of a lady's fan. Leisen also says Milland had a "blinding migraine" that day; the director offered to release him for the day, but Milland insisted on soldiering on. I must say, the migraine never shows in his performance.

    Classic Film & TV: Yes, that's my own copy of Kitty you see on the post. As luck would have it, I found it — complete with reasonably intact dust jacket — at a vintage paper show just before beginning this post. It replaced my previous copy, which was printed on wartime paper that had yellowed almost to brown; you could hardly turn a page without it crumbling to dust in your fingers. This new(er) copy was printed in 1946 and is more durable.

    Kim: Full disclosure — I'm probably a lot harder on Audrey Hepburn's performance than most people are. I find her guttersnipe Eliza amateurish on a high-school-drama-club level; she improves immensely once Eliza becomes the "fair lady", but in my book you don't get much credit for showing up for Act Two. Still, that said, I nevertheless think you'll be impressed with Paulette in Kitty; she and Milland have a chemistry that Audrey and Rex Harrison weren't quite able to match.

  6. I've yet to meet anyone that doesn't like Paulette Goddard; she had the knack for coming off as bright and sparkling without any forced charm. Ray Milland thought she was a fantastic actress. Thanks for digging up all this great research, Jim. And I appreciate the tip on Down to the Sea in Ships.