Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Jeanne Crain, William Holden, and Edmund Gwenn in "Apartment for Peggy"

Apartment for Peggy (1948) is an American comedy-drama directed and written by George Seaton (Miracle on 34th Street) and starring Jeanne Crain, William Holden, and Edmund Gwenn. The supporting cast includes Gene Lockhart, Randy Stewart, Charles Lane, and Cliff Barnett. The screenplay was based on the novel An Apartment for Jenny (1947) by Faith Baldwin.

Jeanne Crain and William Holden play a young married couple trying to cope with the GI housing shortage after the war. The movie begins with Peggy (Crain), who appears to be very pregnant, taking a short rest on a park bench next to retired Professor Henry Barnes (Gwenn). Peggy immediately likes the old professor; she calls him “pops” and baffles him with her rapid-fire speech and modern slang. When she finds out that Barnes’s friend, Professor Bell, (Lockhart) might have “suction” with veteran housing on campus, Peggy asks Barnes to please put in a good word for her.

Before you know it, Peggy and Jason are turning Professor Barnes’s attic into a very comfortable and functional living space. Even Professor Barnes is amazed at the transformation. Reluctant at first to this “home invasion,” Professor Barnes learns to enjoy sharing his home with the young couple, although living with Peggy can be challenging at times.

What Peggy and Jason don’t know, is that before they moved in, the professor was planning his own suicide. The university forced him to retire years earlier and Barnes thinks his usefulness has come to an end. His wife is deceased and his only son was killed in the First World War. He concludes that he’s lived a satisfying life and feels it’s time to exit on his own terms.

What will become of the professor, Jason, and Peggy?

William Holden and Jeanne Crain

George Seaton (1911 - 1979) was an American director, screenwriter, and producer. Seaton started out as an actor and played the Lone Ranger o the radio. He got a job as a contract writer at M-G-M in 1933. His first credited script was for the Marx Brotherscomedy A Day at the Races (1937). Unhappy with only working on comedies, Seaton moved to Columbia in 1940. In the early 1940s, he went to 20th Century-Fox where he achieved his greatest success as a writer and director. At Fox, he wrote the scripts for That Night in Rio (1941), Moon Over Miami (1941), and The Song of Bernadette (1943). He made his directorial debut with Diamond Horseshoe (1945) starring Betty Grable. He wrote and directed Junior Miss (1945) starring Peggy Ann Garner. Seaton wrote and directed the classic Miracle on 34th Street. He won an Academy Award for his screenplay. Other films directed by Seaton include Apartment for Peggy (1948), The Country Girl (1954), Teacher’s Pet (1958), The Counterfeit Traitor (1962), 36 Hours (1964), What’s So Bad About Feeling Good (1968), and Airport (1970), the biggest hit of Seaton’s career.

Jeanne Crain (1925 – 2003) was an American actress whose career spanned more than three decades. While still a teenager, she was asked to take a screen test with Orson Welles. He was testing for the part of Lucy Morgan in his production of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). She didn’t get the part (Anne Baxter did), but she was on her way. She had a bit part in The Gang’s All Here (1943), but had a leading role in Home in Indiana (1944). The film was a box office hit and Crain became a favorite of film fans everywhere. She had another hit with Winged Victory (1944) and co-starred with Dana Andrews in the musical State Fair (1945). That same year, she was the “good girl” opposite Gene Tierney’s “bad girl” in Leave Her to Heaven. More good roles came her way including leads in A Letter to Three Wives (1949), The Fan (1949), and Pinky (1949). The latter won her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. She lost that year to Olivia de Havilland. Crain’s popularity continued into the 1950s but suffered when she was released from her exclusive contract with 20th Century-Fox. She continued to work in films and on television until 1975.

William Holden (1918 - 1981) was an American actor and major movie star. He was one of the most bankable stars of the 1950s. Holden starred in some of the most popular and beloved films of all time including Sunset BoulevardSabrina, Picnic (1955), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), and Stalag 17 for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Holden became a star with his very first role in Golden Boy (1939). He had lead roles in other popular films like Our Town (1940), and  I Wanted Wings (1941). World War II interrupted his career. Holden was a first lieutenant in the United States Army Air Force. After the war, he made some popular but forgettable films. It wasn’t after he collaborated with director Wilder on Sunset Boulevard that Holden’s popularity and stature in Hollywood grew to superstar status.

Edmund Gwenn (1877 – 1959) was an English stage and film actor. He is best remembered for his role as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Gwenn made his Hollywood film debut in Sylvia Scarlett (1935) and went on to have a long career in that town. He was a member of what was known as the British Colony—British ex-pats who were working in Hollywood. So of his other films include Pride and Prejudice (1940), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Lassie Come Home (1943), The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), Undercurrent (1946), Apartment for Peggy (1948), and Mister 880 (1950). The actor Cecil Kellaway was Gwenn’s cousin.

William Holden, Jeanne Crain, and Edmund Gwenn in a publicity photo for
Apartment for Peggy

Apartment for Peggy trivia

  • Charles Lane as Professor Collins, Jason’s chemistry professor, was uncredited in spite of his reasonably significant role toward the movie’s end.
  • Edmund Gwenn both appeared in Miracle on 34th Street.
  • Gene Nelson has an uncredited role as one of the G.I. students.
  • Helen Ford’s (Emmy Swasey in The Model and the Marriage Broker) film debut.
  • Lux Radio Theater broadcast a 60-minute radio adaptation of the movie on February 28, 1949, with Jeanne Crain, William Holden, and Edmund Gwenn reprising their film roles.
  • Jeanne Crain was the first actress to portray an obviously pregnant woman on screen. 

To watch the movie on YouTube, click on the link below.

To join the discussion on June 12, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation with a link to join the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions

  1. The film gives us a glimpse of what life was like after the end of World War II and its effects on returning war veterans. Was it successful in capturing that time period?
  2. What did you think of the performances of Jeanne Crain and William Holden? Were they believable as a young, married couple?
  3. This was Edmund Gwenn’s second film under the direction of George Seaton. Was he as good here as in Miracle on 34th Street?
  4. A lot of the film is lighthearted but it does deal with some difficult issues. Was the film successful in blending comedy with drama?
  5. Did the film have a theme or message?
  6. New York Times movie critic, Bosley Crowther thought Appartment for Peggy was a better movie than Miracle on 34th Street. Crowther also noted that Crain’s “vivid characterization” as Peggy contributed to the film’s overall success. Do you agree with his review?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...