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Anthony Adverse

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Anthony Adverse

Anthony Adverse
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Jack Warner
Screenplay by Sheridan Gibney
Milton Krims
Based on Anthony Adverse 
by Hervey Allen
Starring Fredric March
Olivia de Havilland
Gale Sondergaard
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Edited by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • August 29, 1936 (1936-08-29) (USA)
Running time 141 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Anthony Adverse is a 1936 American epic costume drama film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Fredric March and Olivia de Havilland. Based on the novel Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen, with a screenplay by Sheridan Gibney, the film is about an orphan whose debt to the man who raised him threatens to separate him forever from the woman he loves. The film received four Academy Awards.

Among the four Academy Awards that Anthony Adverse won, Gale Sondergaard was awarded the inaugural Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Faith Paleologus.


In 1773, Maria Bonnyfeather (Anita Louise) is the new bride of the cruel and devious middle-aged nobleman Marquis Don Luis (Claude Rains). However, she is pregnant by Denis Moore (Louis Hayward), the man she loved before being forced to marry Don Luis. After the marquis learns of his wife's affair, Don Luis takes her away but Denis tracks them down at an inn, where Don Luis treacherously kills him in a sword fight.

Months later Maria dies giving birth to her son at a chalet in the Alps in northern Italy. Don Luis leaves the infant at a convent near Leghorn, Italy, where the nuns christen him Anthony, it being March 19, St Anthony's feast day. Don Luis lies to Maria's father, wealthy merchant John Bonnyfeather (Edmund Gwenn), telling him that the infant is also dead. Ten years later, completely by coincidence, Anthony (Billy Mauch) is apprenticed to Bonnyfeather, his real grandfather, who discovers his relationship to the boy but keeps it a secret from him. He gives the boy the surname Adverse in acknowledgement of the difficult life he has led.

As an adult, Anthony (Fredric March) falls in love with Angela Giuseppe (Olivia de Havilland), the cook's daughter, and the couple wed. Soon after the ceremony, Anthony departs for Havana to save Bonnyfeather's fortune. The note Angela leaves Anthony is blown away and he is unaware that she has gone to another city. Instead, assuming he has abandoned her, she pursues a career as an opera singer. Anthony leaves Cuba for Africa, where he becomes corrupted by his involvement with the slave trade. He is redeemed by his friendship with Brother François (Pedro de Cordoba), and following the friar's crucifixion and death by the natives, he returns to Italy to find Bonnyfeather has died and his housekeeper, Faith Paleologus (Gale Sondergaard) (now married to Don Luis), will inherit the man's estate fortune unless Anthony goes to Paris to claim his inheritance.

In Paris, Anthony is reunited with his friend, prominent banker Vincent Nolte (Napoleon Bonaparte. When Anthony learns her secret, he departs for America with his son (Scotty Beckett) in search of a better life.



Original choices for the lead role include [1]


In his review in the New York Times, Frank S. Nugent described the film as "a bulky, rambling and indecisive photoplay which has not merely taken liberties with the letter of the original but with its spirit . . . For all its sprawling length, [the novel] was cohesive and well rounded. Most of its picaresque quality has been lost in the screen version; its philosophy is vague, its characterization blurred and its story so loosely knit and episodic that its telling seems interminable." [2]

The film was named one of the National Board of Review's Top Ten pictures of the year and ranked eighth in the Film Daily critics' poll.[3]

Academy Awards


In culture

The initial theme of the second movement of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's violin concerto was drawn from the music he composed for this film. English singer Julia Gilbert adopted the name of the film's main character when recording for the London-based él record label in the late 1980s.

Screen legend Tony Curtis (1925–2010), who was born Bernard Schwartz, named himself for the titular character; the novel from which this film was adapted was the actor's favorite. Curtis, who soared to fame with his role in Houdini as the legendary illusionist, was buried with a Stetson hat, an Armani scarf, driving gloves, an iPhone and a copy of his favorite novel, Anthony Adverse.

Jack Benny parodied Anthony Adverse on the October 11 and 18 episodes of his "Jell-o Show" in 1936.[5]

In the 1934 short comedy What, No Men!, when their plane lands in "Indian Country" and Gus (El Brendel) is told to throw out the anchor, he tosses out a rope attached to a huge book titled Anthony Adverse.

The novel Anthony Adverse, by Hervey Allan, was included in Life Magazine's list of the 100 outstanding books of 1924-1944.[6]


  1. ^ Walter Connolly Selected to Play Title Role in "Father Brown, Detective": Long Search for Correct Type Ends "Vampire of Prague" Lead Scheduled for Fay Webb Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 Oct 1934: 13.
  2. ^ reviewNew York Times
  3. ^ at Turner Classic MoviesAnthony Adverse
  4. ^ "The 9th Academy Awards (1936) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-02-14. 
  5. ^ Jack Benny's "Jell-O Show"
  6. ^ Canby, Henry Seidel. '"The 100 Outstanding Books of 1924 - 1944". Life Magazine, 14 August 1944. Chosen in collaboration with the magazine's editors.

External links

  • Anthony Adverse at the Internet Movie Database
  • Anthony Adverse at AllMovie
  • Anthony Adverse at the TCM Movie Database
  • Anthony Adverse at Virtual History
  • Hervey Allen Papers, 1831-1965, SC.1952.01, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh
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