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Lydia Bailey is a 1952 American historical film directed by Jean Negulesco, based on the novel of the same name by Kenneth Roberts. It stars Dale Robertson and Anne Francis.[2]

Lydia Bailey
Original film poster
Directed byJean Negulesco
Produced byJules Schermer
Written by
Michael Blankfort
Philip Dunne
Based onnovel by Kenneth Roberts
StarringDale Robertson
Music byHugo Friedhofer
CinematographyHarry Jackson
Edited byDorothy Spencer
Release date
  • June 2, 1952 (1952-06-02)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.75 million (US rentals)[1]


In 1802, lawyer Albion Hamlin travels from Baltimore to Cap François in Haiti. He wants to obtain the signature of Lydia Bailey, whose late father left his large estate to the United States government, who needs the money. Haiti is in turmoil because Napoleon Bonaparte is trying to reclaim control of the island.

Albion heard that Lydia will be with her fiancé, Col. Gabriel D'Autremont. Albion is shocked when his young guide, Nero, is killed by men trying to steal his luggage.

Albion learns that the D'Autremonts are living at their country chateau inland. He is knocked unconscious, and wakes up to find out he was knocked out by King Dick, an educated man who supports Toussaint L'Ouverture.

Partial castEdit


Original NovelEdit

The novel was Roberts' first since Olivier Wiswell in 1940. It was published in January 1947. The New York Times called it "an entertaining chronicle" with a "preposterous plot".[3] The book became a best seller.[4]


20th Century Fox first obtained the rights to Kenneth Robert's novel in September 1946, prior to the book being published. They paid paid $215,000 for a ten-year "lease" on the novel.[5] Fox representatives said they had not even read the book, basing their sale on Roberts' reputation and an outline.[6] William Perlberg was assigned to be producer.[7] The following month that job was given to Sol Siegel.[8] Gene Tierney was the first star announced.[9]

Filming was pushed back after the British government introduced a tax on Hollywood films. This meant the loss of profits in England, which would be crucial in what would be an expensive movie. (Fox also delayed production of other costume pictures which would be expected to make money in Britain, including The Black Rose, Julie and Down the Sea to the Ships).[10])

In April 1948 the project was reactivated, with plans to make the movie using "frozen" funds owed to Fox in England and the Bahamas.[11] In June Fox announced that Philip Dunne was writing a screenplay, and Linda Darnell would likely play the title role.[12]

However filming did not proceed. By May 1949 Susan Hayward, who had signed to Fox, was being mentioned as a star.[13] In September Zanuck said the film would go into production "shortly".[14]

In February 1950 Fox said Tyrone Power would play the male lead.[15] Plans t film in Haiti were delayed by disturbances in that part of the world. In November Jules Shernberg was appointed producer.[16] Micheline Prelle was announced as star.[17]

In June 1951 Power refused the role.[18] Power said he had filmed five historical-period films in a row and wished to do a film where "people talk normally and not in stilted dialogue."[19]

Errol Flynn claimed he was slapped in a bar by Canadian millionaire Duncan McMartin which he said aggravated a spinal injury and meant he was unable to take part in the film. He sued McMartin in the Bahamas Supreme Coutr for £80,000, which included his reported fee for Lydia Bailey, $200,000.[20] The Court awarded Flynn $14,000 in damages.[21]

The lead was given to one of Fox's postwar contract players, Dale Robertson. Another contractee, Anne Francis, played Lydia.[22]

Jean Negulesco signed to direct it under a new four-year deal with Fox.[23]


With Fox's option on the novel running out, the film was shot at the 20th Century Fox Movie Ranch and backlot of Fox's California studios.

This was also the film debut of William Marshall, who played "De Lawd" in Green Pastures.


  1. ^ 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  2. ^
  3. ^ Books of the Times By CHARLES POORE. New York Times 2 Jan 1947: 25.
  4. ^ N. DOUBLEDAY, 9, PUBLISHER, DE: Succeeded His Father as Head of Book Company in 1934--Kipling Youth New York Times 12 Jan 1949: 27.
  5. ^ THREAT OF STRIKE SLOWS FILM PLANS: Production Work Continues but Casting Is Delayed-- Robert Walker in Role Of Local Origin Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]25 Sep 1946: 48.
  6. ^ BY WAY OF REPORT: Bought Sight Unseen Title Tales "Fantasia" Forever By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]29 Sep 1946: 67.
  7. ^ Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]31 Jan 1947: 16.
  8. ^ RKO WILL PRODUCE 'THE LONG TUNNEL': Studio Buys Labatt Drama for Screening This Year--Landis Signs With Eagle-Lion By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times 21 Feb 1947: 16.
  9. ^ DRAMA AND FILM: Best-Seller Heroine 'Lydia Bailey' Nominee Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 24 Feb 1947: A3.
  10. ^ ZANUCK HAS THE ANSWERS: LOOKING at HOLLYWOOD with HEDDA HOPPER ZANUCK HAS THE ANSWERS Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]05 Oct 1947: c10.
  11. ^ 28VIRGINIA MAYO GETS WARNER FILM LEAD: Actress to Star in 'Girl From Jones Beach,' New Comedy Douglas May Do Movie By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times 22 Apr 1948: 34.
  12. ^ Actor to Star Double; 'Lydia Bailey' on Slate Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]07 June 1948: 19.
  13. ^ Susan Hayward Will Star at 20th Century Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 2 May 1949: B4.
  14. ^ ZANUCK VIEWPOINTS New York Times 11 Sep 1949: X4.
  15. ^ PARAMOUNT CUTS EXECUTIVE STAFF: 14 Minor Production Officials Laid Off in Economy Move --More Reductions Seen By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 28 Feb 1950: 26.
  16. ^ Niven Will Twice Star Abroad; 'Lydia Bailey' Hypoed; Bob Alda Wanted Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 9 Nov 1950: A12.
  17. ^ BALLERINA WILL DO ROLE FOR GOLDWYN: Moira Shearer, Principal for Sadler's Wells Group, Signs for Picture Next Fall By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 14 Nov 1950: 38.
  18. ^ KIRK DOUGLAS SET FOR 'BIG SKY' LEAD: Hawks and Lasker to Produce Film of A.B. Guthrie Jr. Fur Trading Novel at R.K.O. Of Local Origin By THOMAS F. BRADY New York Times 2 June 1951: 13.
  19. ^ Thomas, Bob Tyrone Power's Life Rivaled His Screen Roles The Spencer Daily Reporter 18 Nov 1958
  20. ^ Flynn Winds Up $223,200 Slap Case Evidence Los Angeles Times 23 Mar 1952: 34.
  21. ^ Grant $14,000 to Errol Flynn for a Slapping Chicago Daily Tribune 29 Mar 1952: 1.
  22. ^ POWER'S ROLE GOES TO CONTRACT ACTOR: Dale Robertson Will Play Lead in Fox Film Adaptation of Roberts' 'Lydia Bailey' By THOMAS F. BRADY Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 4 June 1951: 29.
  23. ^ COMPANY FORMED TO FILM MYSTERY: Julian Lesser, Col. Carreras Set Up Royal Productions to Make 'Whispering Smith' By THOMAS F. BRADY New York Times 17 Apr 1951: 34.

External linksEdit