Director William A. Wellman had tried for years to get someone to produce his idea for a film about a young female star who rises to the top as her true love, an established star, falls from favor. At the time, however, nobody believed audiences wanted to see movies about the movies. Fortunately for him, Irene Selznick convinced her husband, David O. Selznick, that the script outline wasn’t just a Hollywood in-joke. It was a great love story. Robert Carson helped to shape Wellman’s story into a script with help from Dorothy Parker and her husband, Alan Campbell. The group produced an iconic film that easily holds its own against its more famous musical remake with Judy Garland less than two decades later. Selznick supervised the color cinematography to create one of the first subtle uses of the new Technicolor process on screen. He wisely cast Fredric March as faded star Norman Maine and Janet Gaynor as the young, hopeful Esther Blodgett/Vicki Lester (ironically, off-screen March was on the rise as Gaynor’s career was fading). The film’s famous final line, “This is Mrs. Norman Maine,” was a last-minute addition by Budd Schulberg and Ring Lardner, Jr., two of Selznick’s script readers who had been asked to contribute additional dialogue. (d. William A. Wellman, 111m, 35mm)
Nitrate projection made possible through support of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Turner Classic Movies, and The Film Foundation in partnership with the American Cinematheque and the Academy Film Archive.