Katharine Hepburn made her stunning screen debut as John Barrymore's daughter in 1932's A Bill of Divorcement. In Christopher Strong, Hepburn's second film and first star vehicle, the intelligent, liberated and unconventionally beautiful actress chose to play an intelligent, liberated and unconventionally beautiful aviatrix who soars into a torrid affair (with Colin Clive as a fellow aristocrat)... and crashes into unendurable heartbreak. The melodramatic story is as much keen-edged steel as tears, thanks to Hepburn's gutsy performance and to the taut direction of Dorothy Arzner, classic Hollywood's only major female director. Among the film's highlights: Hepburn simply astonishing in silvery lamé heading to a costume ball as the world's most glamorous moth.
One of the rare films from Hollywood's classic period directed by a woman, the pioneering Dorothy Arzner, examines a woman aviator's unconventional life. The bold aviatrix finds herself pregnant and in love with a married man, and makes a desperate decision in a world without options. Hepburn is absolutely stunning (particularly in one bug-like costume) and who, after all, could better portray a heroically independent woman in the 30s'
High Flying |
Although many believed that the story was based on the life of Amelia Earhart, director Dorothy Arzner said that the novel had actually been based on aviatrix Amy Lowell.
Actress Ann Harding was slated to star in the picture, according to a 1932 news report, and Arzner later said that Harding lost the part because of "contractural difficulties." Although Arzner said she fought to get Hepburn the part, the director ultimately ended up threatening to quit the picture if Hepburn continued to challenge her decisions. This was Hepburn's first starring role.
According to some sources, Selznick cast Hepburn after another movie she was supposed to star in, "Three Came Unarmed," ran into script problems and was shelved.
Shooting on "Christopher Strong," according to studio production records, fell 13 days behind schedule because of bad weather and Hepburn's ill health.
The film includes newsreel footage of parades and famous air flights.
Additional cast: Gwendolin Browne (Bradford); Desmond Roberts (Bryce Mercer); Mike Morita (Japanese Radio Announcer); Agostino Borgato (Fortune Teller); Paul Ralli (Tango Dancer); Zena Savine (Maid); Donald Stuart (Joseph Drummond); Margaret Lindsay (Girl at Party); and Pat Somereset (Bobby).
Additional credits: Slavko Vorkapich (transitions); C.J. White (production manager); Archie Hill (unit manager); Mel Berns (makeup); Tommy Atkins, Bob Margolis and William Cody (assistant directors).
The Turner videocassette is part of the "RKO Collection."
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