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Blog - Louis Bromfield

24 Hours (1931) Starring Kay Francis, Clive Brook

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24 Hours (1931)

Starring Kay Francis, Clive Brook

24 Hours is all it takes for tippling married man Jim Towner (Clive Brook) to go from social respectability to convict stripes. Upset that his wife Fanny (Kay Francis) has been unfaithful, the wealthy Jim weaves drunkenly from one nightclub to another. He falls for a cabaret performer (Miriam Hopkins) and begins an affair. The girl is killed by her gangster boyfriend (Regis Toomey), but Jim is arrested for the crime. Released from prison, the chastened Jim returns to his wife, who has vowed to remain loyal to her husband.
Director: Marion Gering
Writers: Louis Weitzenkorn (screenplay), Louis Bromfield (novel)

Stars: Clive Brook, Kay Francis, Miriam Hopkins, Regis Toomey, Lucille La Verne

It is an excellent Pre-Code drama. It catches you from the opening credits, superimposed over theatrical-looking models of the New York City skyline. You see the time on a big clock tower, and the 24 hours of the title starts there. All the action fits into that time frame, and the film ends with a shot of the same tower, with the same time as at the beginning. They sure fit a lot of excitement into that one-day period.

Lucille La Verne, one of the all-time great character actresses, is wonderful here, as always. She had such a distinctive face and voice. You can see why Disney used her as the model and voice of the witch in "Snow White." She was good in everything, from the woman who hides, and cheats, the down-and-out Rico in "Little Caesar," to her iconic part as the pal of Madame De Farge in "A Tale of Two Cities." You know, one of the ladies who sits knitting at the base of the guillotine, cackling and jeering as the aristocrats have their heads cut off. That part is probably the one everyone remembers her for.
There are some terrific gems in Paramount's library from 1930-34 that are simply turning to dust. It's moody, almost "noir" feel is fascinating. It's a visual treasure. The photography is fluid.
The first draft of the screenplay was written by Bryan Forbes in 1960, when the story was designed as a vehicle for Cary Grant. He eventually dropped out of the project, which subsequently underwent many changes. It was eventually decided to make the girl the central character and Shirley Maclaine was signed for the lead. After seeing "The Ipcress File", she suggested Michael Caine as her leading man, which led to still more rewriting to accommodate his working-class cockney persona.
It was based on the novel Twenty-Four Hours by Louis Bromfield and the play Shattered Glass by Will D. Lengle and Lew Levenson.
Louis Bromfield (December 27, 1896 – March 18, 1956) was an American author and conservationist who gained international recognition, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Early Autumn and pioneering innovative scientific farming concepts. His farm Malabar Farm was the location of the wedding of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. He won the Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre for his service in World War I. He was an early proponent of organic and self-sustaining gardening, and his farm was one of the first to stop using pesticides.
Kay Francis is possibly the biggest of the forgotten stars from Hollywood's Golden Era, yet, for a while in the 1930s, she ranked as one of the most popular actresses, tagged the Queen of Warner Brothers, by 1935 earning a yearly salary of $115,000 (compared to Bette Davis with $18,000). Kay did not start her working life in show business but sold real estate and arranged extravagant parties for wealthy socialites.
A tall, attractive, grey-eyed brunette with undeniable style and poise, Francis soon acquired a reputation as Hollywood's best dressed woman, wearing the most glamorous gowns designed by great studio costumers like Orry-Kelly, Travis Banton and Adrian. Particularly female audiences often flocked to see Kay Francis pictures simply to appreciate her sumptuous wardrobe. For her part, Kay spent a lot of time and effort on collaborative efforts with costume designers to select the right clothes for the parts she played. Dorothy Jeakins believed, that Kay possessed an innate sense of style.