Comet Over Broadway

Comet over Broadway (1938) is an American film starring Kay Francis and released by Warner Brothers. John Farrow stepped in as director when Busby Berkeley became ill, but Farrow was uncredited on the film.[1]

Comet Over Broadway
Directed byBusby Berkeley
John Farrow (uncredited)
Produced byBryan Foy
Hal B. Wallis
Jack L. Warner
Screenplay byMark Hellinger
Robert Buckner
Based onstory by Faith Baldwin
StarringKay Francis
CinematographyJames Wong Howe
Edited byJames Gibbon
Release date
  • December 3, 1938 (1938-12-03)
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States


Eve Appleton (Francis), wife of small-town garage owner Bill Appleton (Litel), has theatrical ambitions. Bill gets into an argument with a visiting actor over her, kills him accidentally, and is sent to prison. Eve, realizing her part in Bill's fate, vows to right matters, and taking her infant daughter, goes away to make her way in the theatre.

Later, Eve is forced to leave her baby girl with her friend Mrs. "Tim" Adams (Gombell). Bert Ballin (Hunter) befriends her and they fall in love, but she moves abroad and becomes a star. Back in America, as the "Toast of Broadway", she is brought back to a realization of her former vows by Joe Grant (Crisp), her hometown lawyer.



Bette DavisEdit

Warners originally announced the project in May 1937 as a vehicle for Kay Francis based on a story by Faith Baidlwin.[2]

In February 1938 the role was assigned to Bette Davis, who had just been in Jezebel. She was pulled off All Right's Reserved (which became Four's a Crowd) so she could take six weeks holiday.[3] William Keighley as assigned to direct.[4] George Brent and Donald Crisp who had both been in Jezebel were assigned to the cast. Kay Francis went into My Bill (1938) directed by John Farrow.[5][6]

Ian Keith, Walter Abel (borrowed from RKO), and Ronald Reagan were set to co star and the film was meant to start shooting in early April 1938.[7]

But Davis was unhappy with the film. "This was the first nothing script I was given since my court battle in England", Davis later recalled, referring to the lawsuit in which she tried to win her freedom from Warner Bros. after being forced to appear in a series of mediocre films. "It was heartbreaking to me. After winning a second Academy Award . . . I was asked to appear again in junk." [8]

Conferences were held to see if the script could be altered to her satisfaction. On March 30, with the film to start on Monday, Davis refused to make the movie claiming it was not up to the standard set by Jezebel.[9]

Warners sent the script to Irene Dunne to see if she would do it.[10] Warners pulled Davis out of her new project We Are Not Alone.[11]

On 1 April Warners put Davis on suspension. She claimed she was ill but would have made the effort to appear in a film if it had been more than a "routine Cinderella yarn... Had it been The Life of Sarah Bernhardt or Maximillian and Carlotta, both of which have been scheduled for me, I would have attempted to go to the studio, but I did not feel justified in jeopardizing my health on behalf of such an atrocious script."[12] Keighley was assigned to another movie.[13]

The same week, Dick Powell was suspended by Warners for refusing a part in Garden of the Moon.[14]

Warners lodged a complaint against Davis with the Screen Actors Guild, who said they needed time to investigate the matter properly.[15]

Davis opted to go on suspension and remained on suspension when the studio offered her Garden of the Moon, a Busby Berkeley musical, instead. "I was on suspension for a good part of the year following Jezebel. So much wasted time at a time when I felt my career could from then on become a truly successful one . . . It took a lot of courage to go on suspension. One received no salary . . . I couldn't afford it, nor could I afford, career-wise, to make films such as Comet Over Broadway and Garden of the Moon!" [8]

By the end of April, Davis and Hal Wallis, head of production at Warners, agreed on a truce and Davis' next film for Warners would be The Sisters (1938).[16]

Miriam Hopkins was cast in the lead.[17] A week later she dropped out to do another film and the lead role was given to the original star, Kay Francis. Busby Berkley was assigned to direct.[18]


Filming started July 1938.[19]

The film's title was changed during production to Curtain Call then was changed back to Comet Over Broadway.[20]


  1. ^ "Comet Over Broadway".
  2. ^ "WARNERS TO MAKE 60 FEATURE FILMS". New York Times. May 12, 1937 – via ProQuest.
  3. ^ "COLMAN TO STAR IN 'IF I WERE KING'". New York Times. February 2, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  4. ^ Schallert, E. (March 18, 1938). "Variety of stories lined up for muni". Los Angeles Times – via ProQuest.
  5. ^ Schallert, E. (March 23, 1938). "McLaglen will star in "hell's kitchen"". Los Angeles Times – via ProQuest.
  6. ^ Schallert, E. (March 29, 1938). "Nina koshetz engaged for "algiers" role". Los Angeles Times – via ProQuest.
  7. ^ Schallert, E. (March 30, 1938). "Directors may film controversial themes". Los Angeles Times – via ProQuest.
  8. ^ a b Stine, Whitney, and Davis, Bette, Mother Goddam: The Story of the Career of Bette Davis. New York: Hawthorn Books 1974. ISBN 0-8015-5184-6, pp.101-104
  9. ^ "NEWS OF THE SCREEN". New York Times. March 31, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  10. ^ Schallert, E. (April 1, 1938). "Hull considered for "northwest passage"". Los Angeles Times – via ProQuest.
  11. ^ "NEWS OF THE SCREEN". New York Times. April 1, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  12. ^ "NEWS OF THE SCREEN". New York Times. April 2, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  13. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. April 8, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  14. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. April 4, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  15. ^ "HIGHLIGHTS IN THE STUDIO NEWS". New York Times. April 10, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  16. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. April 30, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  17. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. July 5, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  18. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. July 12, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  19. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. July 14, 1938 – via ProQuest.
  20. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. September 22, 1938 – via ProQuest.

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