Easy Living (1949 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jacques Tourneur|
|Produced by||Robert Sparks|
|Written by||Charles Schnee|
|Based on||story Education of the Heart by Irwin Shaw|
|Music by||Roy Webb|
|Cinematography||Harry J. Wild|
|Edited by||Frederic Knudtson|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
Star professional quarterback Pete Wilson (Victor Mature) thinks nothing of his future after football, not even after longtime teammate Bill "Holly" Holloran (Gordon Jones) is released by the team. Pete gets advance after advance on his salary from Anne (Lucille Ball), the secretary of team owner and coach Lenahan (Lloyd Nolan).
One day, however, he goes secretly to see a doctor (Jim Backus) about various symptoms he has been experiencing and learns that he has a heart condition due to a childhood bout of rheumatic fever, one that could kill him if he continues playing football. He starts to tell his wife Liza (Lizabeth Scott), but changes his mind when she is cool to Holly, whom she describes as a has-been after he is gone.
Liza is struggling to make her own interior design business a success, and drags Pete to a fancy party to try to land Gilbert Vollmer as a client. Gilbert knows she has no talent, but is interested in her for other reasons. So is his father, Howard (Art Baker). The older man is looking to replace his young girlfriend, Billy Duane, and dangles before Liza the prospect of redecorating his apartment. Knowing what he is after, Liza is willing to do whatever it takes to further her ambitions.
Meanwhile, Pete is bitterly disappointed when his friend, retiring college head coach Virgil Ryan (Everett Glass), informs him that he cannot recommend him as his replacement because Liza is unsuitable for the duties of a coach's wife. Instead, the job is given to Pete's teammate and friend, Tim "Pappy" McCarr (Sonny Tufts). Tim offers Pete the position of his assistant, but Pete turns it down.
Afraid of physical contact, Pete turns in a very poor performance and loses the next game. Lenahan cannot afford another loss if he wants to make the playoffs (and earn $100,000), so he benches Pete in favor of Tim. Tim plays well, and they win their next game.
When Pete proposes taking the assistant coaching position, Liza breaks up with him. However, when she gets dumped by Howard, she tries unsuccessfully to get Pete back. Pete is given another chance at glory when Tim is injured, but ultimately tells his teammates about his condition and walks away from the game. Though Anne has made it clear that she loves him, Pete decides to take Liza back, making it clear, however, that it will be on his terms.
- Victor Mature as Pete Wilson
- Lucille Ball as Anne, Lenahan's secretary
- Lizabeth Scott as Liza Wilson
- Sonny Tufts as Tim "Pappy" McCarr
- Lloyd Nolan as Lenahan
- Paul Stewart as Dave Argus, a reporter
- Jack Paar as Scoop Spooner
- Jeff Donnell as Penny McCarr
- Art Baker as Howard Vollmer
- Gordon Jones as Bill "Holly" Holloran
- Don Beddoe as Jaeger
- Richard Erdman as Buddy Morgan (as Dick Erdman)
- William "Bill" Phillips as Ozzie, the trainer
- Charles Lang as Whitey
- Kenny Washington as Benny
- Julia Dean as Mrs. Belle Ryan, Virgil's wife
- Everett Glass as Virgil Ryan
- Jim Backus as Dr. Franklin (as James Backus)
- Robert Ellis as Urchin
- Michael St. Angel as Gilbert Vollmer (as Steven Flagg)
- Alex Sharp as Don
- Russell Thorson as Hunk "Eddie" Edwards (as Russ Thorson)
- June Bright as Billy Duane, who commits suicide when Howard Vollmer discards her
- Edward Kotal as Curly
- Audrey Young as Singer
The film was based on a screen story by Irwin Shaw, Education of the Heart. RKO purchased it in April 1946. In June Robert Sparks was assigned the job of producing and Charles Schnee the job of writing the screenplay.
In May 1948 the title was changed to Interference.
Victor Mature was under contract to 20th Century Fox but had an obligation to make a movie at RKO which dated from before the war. He was announced for Battleground and Mr Whiskers before eventually being cast in Interference in June 1948. On the same day this was confirmed he was also announced for the lead in Samson and Delilah, which would be filmed after Interference. (He would end up playing Mr Whiskas which became Gambling House.)
In June Jacques Tourneur was assigned to direct. Other key roles went to Sonny Tufts, Lucille Ball and Lizabeth Scott.
There was a great deal of turbulence at RKO at the time due to the fact that Howard Hughes had bought the studio and head of production Dore Schary had resigned. Films such as Battleground, Bed of Roses and Setup were cancelled. However Interference went ahead started July 12, 1948.
Tourneur called the film "a hard one" for him because he had no interest in football. He later said it was "a very bad film."
The film was originally meant to end with Mature's character leaving his wife for Ball. However it was rewritten during filming so Mature stayed with his wife.
The film was not released until October 1949, by which time its title had been changed to Easy Living. The delayed release meant it could cash in on the publicity for Samson and Delilah, which came out in December.
The New York Times critic gave the film a favorable review, writing that while it "doesn't have the searing candor and impact of some of its predecessors, neither is it a conventional rah-rah cream puff. For Charles Schnee has written a bright, well-knit adaptation of an Irwin Shaw short story, a capable cast has given it the works and the off-screen coaching of the director, Jacques Tourneur, is as crisp and telling as the late Knute Rockne's."
The Los Angeles called it "moody cinema".
The film recorded a financial loss of $625,000.
In November 1949 screenwriters John Stone and Frederick Bond claimed Easy Living was based on their story Never Say Die which they submitted to RKO in 1947. They sued RKO, RKO's story editor and Shaw for $150,000 in damages.
- "New York Times: Easy Living". NY Times. Retrieved July 19, 2008.
- Melvyn Douglas Will Star for RKO is 'Pittsburgh Escapade' -- Barbara Bel Geddes in Cast By THOMAS F. BRADYSpecial to THE NEW YORK TIMES 18 June 1947: 31.
- KELLY, SINATRA SET FOR BASEBALL FILM: They Will Appear in Musical Comedy, 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game,' at Metro By THOMAS F. BRADYS New York Times 18 May 1948: 26
- Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 1 May 1948: 14.
- THOMAS F BRADY (June 12, 1948). "TWO MOVIE LEADS TO VICTOR MATURE: He Will Co-Star With Lamarr in 'Samson and Delilah,' Be Seen in 'Interference'". New York Times. p. 9.
- LEADS IN FOX FILM TO HARRISON, CRAIN: Actor and Actress Will Appear in Screen Version of Book by John Mason Brown By THOMAS F. BRADY New York Times 5 June 1948: 9.
- Schallert, Edwin (June 30, 1948). "Tufts in 'Interference;' Foster 'Big Cat' Star". Los Angeles Times. p. 19.
- Article 1 -- No Title The Christian Science Monitor 17 June 1948: 5.
- Fujiwara p 158
- Fujiwara p 159
- "Of Local Origin". New York Times. August 5, 1949. p. 23.
- H. H. T. (October 13, 1949). "At Loew's Criterion". The New York Times.
- Easy Living' Has Football Background Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 5 Sep 1949: A3.
- Richard B. Jewell, Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures, Uni of California, 2016
- BEFORE THE COURT: Lawsuits in Hollywood Crowd Week's News to Tune of Claims in Millions By THOMAS F. BRADYHOLLYWOOD. New York Times 27 Nov 1949: X5.
- Fujiwara, Chris (2000). Jacques Tourneur. Johns Hopkins University Press.