Sea Hawk (The) / Deception

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Sea Hawk (The) / Deception
Irinia Romishevskaya / Moscow Symphony Chorus and Orchestra / William Stromberg

[ Naxos Film Music Classics / 2 CD ]

Release Date: Tuesday 10 July 2007

This item is currently out of stock. We expect to be able to supply it to you within 2 - 4 weeks from when you place your order.

"This isn't just essential for Korngold or film score collectors--this release also is perfect for mp3 players, long car trips, or any activity that needs a nice big chunk of orchestral music to while away an hour or two. If this isn't an irresistible bargain, then I don't know what is."
(Classics Today 10/10 July 2008)

"The mere fact that Erich Korngold's complete score for The Sea Hawk exists will probably be enough for most film-score buffs to leap up and grab this release, even were it not as fine as it actually is. What we have here, for all intents and purposes, is a vast symphonic poem only a couple of minutes shy of two full hours. This isn't just essential for Korngold or film score collectors--this release also is perfect for mp3 players, long car trips, or any activity that needs a nice big chunk of orchestral music to while away an hour or two. If this isn't an irresistible bargain, then I don't know what is."
(Classics Today 10/10 July 2008)

After completing the sound remake of Captain Blood in 1935, Warner Bros. decided to follow that successful venture with another Rafael Sabatini sea story to star the screen's newest swashbuckler, Errol Flynn. The Sea Hawk was a logical choice.

Various studios had produced silent film versions of Sabatini's novels. The 1924 faithful-to-the-book and spectacular First National production of The Sea Hawk starring Milton Sills was the most popular of the adaptations, grossing nearly $2,000,000 - big money in those days. Warner Bros. acquired rights to The Sea Hawk and Sabatini's Captain Blood (made by Vitagraph in 1924) after absorbing First National and Vitagraph in the late 1920s.

Preliminary work on the new Sea Hawk proceeded slowly. On 10 September 1936, Warner associate producer Harry Joe Brown wrote executive producer Hal Wallis: "I bring to your attention again The Sea Hawk … We have some marvelous battle scenes from the old picture [the silent Sea Hawk ]. Here's hoping we go to work on it." The sea battle and other ships at sea material from the 1924 Sea Hawk negative had been extracted a few years earlier and kept separately for potential use in sound remakes of both The Sea Hawk and Captain Blood.

Instead of moving ahead with production plans for The Sea Hawk, the Warner executives decided to go with another big-budget Flynn film, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). By early 1938 Henry Blanke ( Robin Hood ) was assigned as associate producer of The Sea Hawk. On 25 August, Seton I. Miller submitted a twenty-five page outline to Blanke called Beggars of the Sea. It had nothing whatsoever to do with Sabatini's 1915 Sea Hawk novel, which was about a Cornish gentleman who became a Barbary corsair. Miller devised an entirely new approach and plot. It dealt with the exploits of fictional character, "Geoffrey Thorpe" (Flynn), suggested by Sir Francis Drake, who along with other privateers commanded marauding expeditions against the Spanish possessions in the Americas for the treasury of Queen Elizabeth. The historical backdrop Miller used was, on the whole, reasonably accurate. But curiously, the "sea beggars" of history were what Dutch privateers of the time were called; their English equivalents were referred to as "sea dogs" (Drake, Hawkins, Frobisher, etc.). Historically, there were no "sea hawks."

Miller was told to develop his outline into a script, which he completed in late 1938. Shortly afterwards Wallis again decided to postpone work on The Sea Hawk (or Beggars of the Sea ) for the time being. Then, on the recommendation of Warner staff writer (soon to be director) John Huston, Henry Blanke sent writer Howard Koch the latest script on Beggars of the Sea. Koch recently had been put under contract. At this time it was agreed that all references to the "beggars of the sea" were to be dropped and instead, the privateers would be called "sea hawks," in order to use the saleable, surefire title. Wallis and Curtiz also decided, in Wallis' words, "to use [footage from] practically all of the fights on the two ships from [the 1935] Captain Blood … "

After reading Miller's material and attending the various meetings, Koch drafted a thirty-eight page "suggested story and treatment," which essentially was the same story Miller had written. In examining the various drafts, it is clear that the primary difference between Miller's scripts and Koch's scripts is in the characterization, dialogue, and interplay. Koch did rewrite a good many of the scenes in a different style; and he gave more dimension to the basically stereotyped characters. Formula elements from Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood were interwoven for box-office insurance. The pirate/outlaw status of Thorpe (a privateer) is presented as justifiable and motivated by injustice, tyranny, and patriotism, thereby making his position respectable.

In the summer of 1939, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, starring Bette Davis and Flynn, finished filming. The plan was to begin work shortly thereafter on The Sea Hawk. In fact, on 5 April 1939, Wallis has written Tenny Wright, the studio production manager: "In planning your sets for The Knight and the Lady [retitled The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex ], please plan these on stages where they can by saved after this production as we will be able to use practically every set over again for The Sea Hawk and this will save a fortune."

But various circumstances caused The Sea Hawk to be postponed yet again for six months. Most important, putting off allowed sufficient time for the planning and construction of a unique new "maritime" sound stage on the Warners' Burbank lot. After its completion, Stage 21 (at the time the largest and most modern in the film industry) was capable of being filled with water. Thousands of feet of heavy mains, sewers, and drains had been installed. Working in several shifts daily, 375 men were employed for eleven weeks in the construction of a full-scale British man-of-war (135 feet) and a Spanish galleass (165 feet) which could be placed side by side, with some distance separating them, in the water on the stage. Previously, no ship the size of these had been built especially for stage work, either indoors or outdoors.

Warner Bros. did not believe in building practical ships and filming at sea - as, for example, MGM did for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). Too often in such enterprises there are weather delays, seasickness, temperamental outbursts, and other problems that could cost considerable time and money. This marine stage, which no other studio had, allowed for shooting sea pictures under totally controlled conditions. The studio planned to film The Sea Wolf, Captain Horatio Hornblower, and John Paul Jones on the stage in the immediate future, but only the first of these was completed at that time. After America entered World War II the studio suspended plans for expensive period nautical films. Stage 21 was destroyed by fire in May 1952. Hornblower (1951) and John Paul Jones (1959) were filmed by Warners in England and Spain, respectively.

Starting in November 1939, the casting of The Sea Hawk was given serious attention. Flynn, of course, was always figured for the lead since the picture was designed at the outset as a vehicle for him. But back in July 1939, Hal Wallis wrote to Michael Curtiz: "I want to make a complete and thorough test of Dennis Morgan in the character of the leading role for The Sea Hawk... You will have [contract players] Brenda Marshall or Jane Bryan work with him in the girl's scenes …" Morgan recently had been signed by the studio. Wallis' request was no doubt the result of one of the many recurring battles between Flynn and Jack L. Warner that centered around the kind of picture the studio wanted the actor to do, the chosen director (Flynn disliked Curtiz intensely but was more often than not directed by him), and the actor's approval of leading ladies. In any case, nothing was changed after testing Dennis Morgan; Flynn was still scheduled for the temporarily delayed Sea Hawk.

Although originally announced for The Sea Hawk, Olivia de Havilland, his popular co-star from Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and other films, was not cast. After her loan-out to David O. Selznick for the role of Melanie in Gone With the Wind (1939), she returned to Warners determined to seek better parts at her home studio - and this included not wanting to continue as "the girl" in the Flynn adventure films. Jack L. Warner was equally determined to keep Olivia in her place by showing the actress that her presence in Gone With the Wind neither impressed him nor changed her status at Warners. She was more than once placed on suspension for turning down films.

Brenda Marshall was one of the studio's recently acquired players who was being given a buildup. In her first film at the studio, Espionage Agent (1939), she had the leading female role. The Sea Hawk was her second film. Others in consideration for her part included Andrea Leeds, Margaret Lockwood, Jane Bryan, Ida Lupino, and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

For the important role of the queen the studio wanted Flora Robson, the distinguished British actress of stage and screen, who had played Elizabeth in Alexander Korda's Fire Over England (1937). Warners signed her to come to America on a two-picture deal.

Claude Rains, under non-exclusive contract to Warners, had always been first choice for Don Alvarez, the Spanish ambassador. Basil Rathbone was originally favored as his cohort in villainy, Lord Wolfingham, which would have brought together again the duo from Robin Hood. But instead Henry Daniell, the number two choice, was signed. Others on the list of possibilities for Wolfingham were Vincent Price, George Sanders, and Louis Hayward. Alan Hale, as usual, was cast as Flynn's sidekick, and Una O'Connor virtually reprised her role in Robin Hood as the heroine's companion.

The Sea Hawk was given a forty-eight-day shooting schedule. Due to Flora Robson's commitment for the Broadway production of Ladies in Retirement, her scenes had to be shot first. These were filmed mostly on Stage 7 where the Elizabeth and Essex throne room had been photographed. Art director Anton Grot, who had designed the settings for that picture, artfully modified them for The Sea Hawk, and some of the set units as well as set decorations were reused according to plan.

Orry-Kelly designed the costumes for both Elizabeth and Essex and The Sea Hawk and was able to revamp some of his earlier creations in addition to planning new costumes for some of the principal players.

On 1 February 1940, filming began. Since the plan all along for The Sea Hawk was to use a considerable amount of stock footage from black-and-white films, this was surely the primary reason for foregoing Technicolor in this particular case. Fortunately, Sol Polito's photography is a superb example of how extraordinary black-and-white can be.

By 19 February, the climactic duel between Flynn and Henry Daniell was being filmed before finishing with the palace sets. Unit manager Frank Mattison in his report to studio production manager Tenny Wright said: "... This duel has turned into a matter of a walk. Mr. Daniell is absolutely helpless and his closeups in the duel will be mostly from the elbows up." Mattison continued on 1 March, "The man tries hard but it has just taken about four extra days to get through this duel."

The duel - an obligatory scene in the Flynn swashbucklers - was choreographed by Belgian fencing master Fred Cavens, who had staged many screen duels - including some of Douglas Fairbanks' in the 1920s. Working with Curtiz, Cavens devised a routine that took Flynn (doubled in some shots by Don Turner) and Daniell (doubled in most shots by Ned Davenport or Ralph Faulkner) from Wolfingham's sitting room in the palace to the balcony, corridor, and main hall. The fight was more furiously paced and edited than the Cavens duels for Captain Blood and Robin Hood (partly because of the necessity to double Daniell extensively). Overturned tables and candelabra stands, slashed candles, and huge shadows of the opponents on the wall were used much as they had been in Robin Hood. Curtiz (and presumably Polito) loved those dramatic shadows.

By mid-March the spectacular battle scene that took place near the opening of the film between Thorpe's ship and the Spanish galleass was being shot on the new marine stage. Henry Blanke sent a memo to Wallis on 14 March in which he outlined the footage he could lift from the 1935 Captain Blood : Shots of men swinging from ship to ship during the battle, closeups of cannons firing, and clips showing the effect of the cannons on the ship.

In addition, he had some medium and long shots of general battle and men falling into the water originally used in The Divine Lady (1929), a rather lavish First National Picture about Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, which had been reused in the 1935 Captain Blood. The fact that there was a discrepancy of roughly two centuries between the period of The Sea Hawk and The Divine Lady seemed to bother no one. Ironically, no footage whatsoever from the earlier version of The Sea Hawk ever made it to either the 1935 Captain Blood or the 1940 Sea Hawk.

After the battle between the two ships, all of the galley material was photographed on Stage 3. Scenes taking place in a galley with slaves shackled and rowing to the beat of the timekeeper's drum were relatively novel in 1940. The silent Sea Hawk and Ben-Hur (1925) had key episodes during which the hero of each of these epics spent time at the dreaded oars (picturizing, in both cases, chapters from the respective popular novels), but these had been years earlier and without dialogue.

One of the most imaginatively directed and photographed scenes in the picture was filmed next: Thorpe and his men freeing themselves from the galley. After a detailed escape from the shackles and chains, the men cautiously proceed to begin their operation on the deck of the Spanish ship, Madre de Dios. Wallis wrote to Curtiz, 1 April: "I just want to be sure... that you do not have any battle scenes - but rather do this all in a sinister, mysterious fashion, with just shadowy figures coming over the rail, dropping down on the deck, crawling around corners of hatches, and stealing up on individuals and Spanish sailors.... Be sure that this is all done in sketchy lighting... "

Meanwhile, Curtiz continued to build-up the opening battle scene between the two ships whenever he had an opportunity. His claim, from the pre-production days, that he would not be able to shoot a fight better than the one in Captain Blood was conveniently forgotten. Curtiz's embellishments of the big scenes in his pictures gave the productions a richness and visual excitement that contributed strongly to the timeless appeal they have.

The last scheduled filming was the Panama episode, during which Thorpe and his men intercept a Spanish treasure train in the jungle and then later are intercepted themselves by other Spaniards. A few blocks from Warners' Burbank studio was some studio property at the time called "30 Acres" (now the NBC Studios in Burbank ). Art director Anton Grot had 500,000 square feet converted into a jungle. Tropical plants, trees, and vines were brought to the area and a four-and-a-half-inch water line was laid down, through which the land was flooded to create a jungle swamp.

The scenes at the Venta Cruz market place and the interior of the treasure-house were photographed on a set constructed for the 1939 Juarez at Warners' Calabasas Ranch several miles northwest of Burbank. The brief shots showing Thorpe and his party finally arriving at the shoreline from their escape through the swamps was filmed on the beach at Point Mugu, northwest of Los Angeles. Other scenes depicting the exterior of a Dover street and dock, the palace garden, palace gate, the exterior and interior of the chartmaker's shop were all shot on the backlot using standing sets.

While filming continued and the picture was being assembled and edited, the legendary special effects department on Stage 5 under Byron Haskin was preparing and filming the "miniature" ships for the distant shots that were eventually to be integrated into the sequences involving the closer angles of the full-scale ships already photographed on Stage 21.

The ships, built at a scale of at least one inch to the foot, were carefully crafted to tie in with their full-scale counterparts. Haskin told me in 1979 that each miniature ship concealed a man, who from a prone position would guide the rudder and work the little inboard motors and the tiny cannons.

Finally after sixty-eight days of shooting (twenty days over schedule), The Sea Hawk completed filming on 20 April. Erich Wolfgang Korngold, under contract to Warner Bros., was set for the music - as it turned out, his last for a swashbuckler. He had scored the previous Captain Blood, The Prince and the Pauper, and The Adventures of Robin Hood - all with Errol Flynn. One charming melody that appeared to be sung on camera by Brenda Marshall, but which actually was prerecorded by Sally Sweetland (nee Mueller), was developed by Korngold into an art-song, a part of his Opus 38. A waltz he had written for Danton, an unproduced Warner film of 1936, was transformed into a quietly apprehensive march used for the jungle scenes. Korngold and the Warner orchestra of fifty-four players recorded the superb score in fifty-eight hours, spread over many days.

On 17 July The Sea Hawk was press and industry previewed at Warners' Hollywood Theatre. It ran two hours and six minutes. One month later the film was in first-run release with the length intact. At least some of the initial release prints were sepia-toned for the Panama sequences. Most reviewers praised the production in general and the action sequences specifically, but a few thought the episodes of court intrigue tended to diminish the effect of the epic sweep.

Flynn gave an excellent account of himself in The Sea Hawk. Instead of the wide-open gallantry he displayed in Captain Blood or the impudently aggressive charmer he presented in Robin Hood, his Geoffrey Thorpe is cool and collected, gentlemanly, and shy and awkward in the presence of ladies - other than the queen, with whom he has a special relationship. Flynn was deliberately trying to present a relatively restrained interpretation and had asked the producers and writer Howard Koch to superimpose more dimension on the relatively stock heroic character. The performance wears well.

Critics noted the parallels of the film with the dire European political events of 1939-40. Like the arrogant Hitler, King Philip of Spain in the script states that conquest will cease only when the entire world is under his control. The appeasement policy at Elizabeth 's court was like the appeasement attempts in the late 1930s by England 's Prime Minister Chamberlain and others. During the writing, production, and release of The Sea Hawk, events in Europe moved rapidly. By July of 1940 England was at war, facing invasion.

The British release prints of The Sea Hawk contained a closing speech by Elizabeth that was longer than the one included in the American version. In part, the queen speaks of preparing the nation for war after trying to avert the same.

The 1947 reissue of the film (with seventeen minutes cut), coupled with the shortened by eleven minutes The Sea Wolf (1941), did exceptionally well during the period following World War II when the box office was down and lots of revivals were making the rounds. The double bill opened in first-run theatres throughout the country and more often than not was held over for a second week before moving to second and third-run houses.

Warners continued to get mileage out of the footage shot for The Sea Hawk. On 2 October 1956, "Condemned to Glory," a one hour episode of Conflict, a series produced by Warners for ABC-TV, managed to rework the plot of The Sea Hawk with new players, old costumes, fragments of old sets, and an abundance of stock footage from the 1940 film interspersed with matched-up new footage of Geoffrey Toone and Jorja Curtright, substituting for Flynn and Flora Robson, along with various other players performing similar duty.

In 1986, the 1940 British release version of The Sea Hawk was given a U.S. video release, which included Elizabeth 's longer closing speech and another sequence with Flynn, Alan Hale, and Donald Crisp, during which Crisp's character brings a message from the queen, asking Captain Thorpe to set sail for Panama earlier than planned. The aforementioned material had never before been seen in the U.S. After a prolonged search, this version had been found at the British Film Institute and the BBC in England. Prior to this, the video release was of the truncated 109-minute theatrical reissue of 1947. All currently available DVDs and videos utilize the extended British version. And in the summer of 1995, a commercial for Miller Genuine Draft beer was built around footage of Flynn and company escaping from the galley.

The Sea Hawk was and is a first-rate example of its genre. And its appeal is perennial. Physically the $1,700,000 production is much more opulent than the cautious, relatively economy-minded Captain Blood of five years earlier. The Sea Hawk 's formula is an entirely agreeable one. The hero is indeed a hero and the villains are most assuredly villains. If what we expect is what we get, it is all served expansively with the finest ingredients and in a relatively sophisticated manner. The audience is swept along and still seems willingly to enter into a suspension of disbelief. In the case of The Sea Hawk familiarity does not breed contempt but rather pleasure.

Deception a.k.a. Jealousy, Obsession and Conception

Bette Davis had been a very big star for many years at Warner Bros. - indeed, she was referred to as "Queen of the Lot" - especially since her performance in Jezebel in 1938, followed by Dark Victory in 1939, and then many other well-received films. But with World War II over in 1945 things began to change in the film industry. Fortunately, Davis ' A Stolen Life in 1946 was a hit. Then came Deception that same year - her last good film during her Warner contract period. The three Warner pictures she made following Deception were a distinct letdown artistically and commercially: Winter Meeting (1948), June Bride (1948), and Beyond the Forest (1949). Davis and Warners parted company after eighteen years. Fortunately, All About Eve at 20th Century-Fox in 1950 was a major renaissance for the star. She certainly wasn't down-and-out after all.

Returning to that last good Davis Warner film: Deception had an unusual evolution. On 1 December 1943, Warner Bros. purchased the screen rights to a 1927 two-character French play, Monsieur Lamberthier, by Louis Verneuil, which was later presented in 1928 on the New York stage under the title Jealousy. The New York cast also consisted of only two people: a struggling artist (painter), portrayed by John Halliday, and the proprietor of a Paris gown shop, played by Fay Bainter. The lovers marry, but she conceals from her husband the affair she had with a wealthy older man who bought the woman's shop for her. And she is still in his power. Gradually the husband's jealousy of his wife's "guardian" accelerates and he eventually strangles the elderly man. The husband then goes to prison. The American play version, adapted by Eugene Walter, ran for 136 performances in New York.

Paramount made a feature film, also called Jealousy (with sound), in 1929. The couple, played by Jeanne Eagles and Fredric March, were augmented this time by the rich and unscrupulous lover, played by Britisher Halliwell Hobbes, and a few other characters.

When Warners purchased the rights in 1943, the press release stated that Barbara Stanwyck and Paul Henreid would play the leads. But by the time actual work began on the script by John Collier and Joseph Than almost two years later, the picture was designed as a Bette Davis vehicle with Paul Henreid and Claude Rains co-starring as they did in the exceptionally popular Now, Voyager in 1942. And Irving Rapper, who directed Now, Voyager, was assigned Her Conscience, the film's working title of the French play.

"I pleaded with Warner Bros. To keep the motion picture a two-person film," recalled Bette Davis in the early 1970s. But the studio "could not imagine a film with only two characters and the third character at the end of a telephone, unseen ever by the audience."

So Claude Rains was to play the wealthy "benefactor" and lover of Christine Radcliffe, the Davis character, before Karel Novak (Henreid) (this time a classical cellist) re-enters Christine's life. In this new set-up, the three leading characters are steeped in the world of classical music: Hollenius (Rains) is a wealthy, internationally famous composer, Christine a pianist and music student, and Karel, a refugee cellist.

All of the drafts of the Warner scripts, starting with the first, had the concert music background, so the writers along with producer Henry Blanke obviously decided on this approach from the outset. The mid and late 1940s was a period in feature films when there was considerable interest in composers and musicians - real and imagined. Warners had recently produced a Joan Crawford-John Garfield melodrama that dealt with a gifted concert violinist (Garfield) and featured a repertoire of well-known symphonic selections. Presumably it was felt that for the Jealousy adaptation another instrument should be chosen. The piano was required for a film about Chopin ( A Song to Remember, 1945) and Gershwin ( Rhapsody in Blue, 1945), among others, but the cello had not any exposure on film as the primary instrument.

Paul Henreid was not a professional musician, but then neither was John Garfield ( Humoresque ), nor Leslie Howard, going back to the 1939 David O. Selznick production of Intermezzo, the remake of the 1936 Swedish film that introduced American audiences to Ingrid Bergman. In a 8 May 1939 memo to Leslie Howard and others, Selznick said:

Miss Bergman told me a very interesting thing about the way the more effective shots were made in the Swedish version of the violinist - those which gave a real illusion that the leading man was playing the violin.

The closer angles were made by having two violinists stand on either side of the leading man, whose arms were held closely at his side; one violinist had his arm outstretched and did the fingering and the violinist on the other side did the bow work.

I think we ought to do the same thing.

And they did. As this practice evolved, a breakaway coat was made-up, the actor placed his arms and hands behind his back; the coat was buttoned and the two real violinists stood or sat (depending on the camera angle) behind the actor. One placed his right arm through the coat's right sleeve and used the bow, while the other placed his left arm through the left sleeve and performed the fingering. Of course, the camera was positioned so as to eliminate the real violinists. The music had been prerecorded by a concert violinist with studio orchestra in advance and then played over loudspeakers on the shooting stage so that the two violinists from the music department could go through the correct motions from listening to the playback on stage.

Humoresque used an elaboration of this procedure, and then again for Henreid's cello playing in the retitled Deception (nobody was particularly happy with the working title Her Conscience and it was scuttled along the way).

The cellist who actually recorded the Korngold Cello Concerto and other selections for the Deception soundtrack was Warner contract musician Eleanor Aller Slatkin. Her husband, Felix Slatkin, was concertmaster in Alfred Newman's 20th Century-Fox recording orchestra. Eleanor's father, Russian-born cellist Gregory Aller, was engaged to coach Paul Henreid so that in some shots without the breakaway coat he would appear to be positioning the instrument and his arms and hands properly. Many days before and during the shooting of the picture, Gregory Aller and Henreid worked in a music room at the studio. "He is quick to learn," Aller was quoted in 1946, "but there are so many things to remember and in such a short time!" Aller said that Henreid had "a fine musical ear, which is very important. And as a youngster Mr. Henreid said he studied the violin for a while, so that, too, made my work easier."

Bette Davis, portraying a pianist, was required to be seen on camera playing for one minute and thirty-three seconds a portion of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata (Opus 57). Fortunately, Davis had learned to play the piano as a child, so she diligently practised the short section that was pre-recorded by the young pianist Shura Cherkassky. Davis ' synchronization was excellent. According to Whitney Stine, "She had originally wanted to record the number herself, but director Irving Rapper said, 'Why bother, Bette? No one will believe you actually performed the number anyway!'" To which Davis responded, "Rapper was so right. The public was so 'movie wise' as to photographic tricks that I'm sure no one believed I could actually play this difficult piano solo."

Claude Rains playing the fictional Hollenius, the renowned composer and conductor, had to be shown briefly playing the piano (pre-recorded by Erich Wolfgang Korngold) and more extensively conducting the symphony orchestra while the Henreid character played Korngold's newly-composed for the film Cello Concerto at the dress rehearsal for the premiere concert sequence. In a October 1946 Los Angeles Times interview, Rains was asked if he knew anything about conducting or playing the piano. "Not a damn thing about either. I know only a crotchet [quarter-note notation] from a quaver [eighth-note notation]. When a little boy I had exactly one piano lesson - and all I remember are a crotchet and quaver. But don't ask me what they are."

Then interviewer Philip K. Scheuer asked Rains if he copied Hollenius from anyone in the music world. "No. For instance," replied Rains, "a friend of Stokowski came on the set one day and said, 'I know who that is, that's Stokowski.' And then another day someone who knew Toscanini said, 'I know who that is, that's Toscanini.' I was told that the man resembled Sibelius a little. But I know a little about Sibelius and Hollenius certainly was not based on him. John Collier, as good a writer as there is, did a wonderful character on paper. If the character is based on anyone, it's based on John Collier's."

Since Hollenius is murdered (in this version by the Davis character, rather than the husband as in the play) just before the Cello Concerto's premiere, another conductor is asked to substitute. He is played by real-life conductor Einar Nilson who first came to the U.S. as musical director with Max Reinhardt, and he conducted the music for Reinhardt's stage production of The Miracle in 1927, followed by Reinhardt's theatrical presentation of A Midsummer Night's Dream that same year. Nilson was also engaged by Warners to coach Claude Rains in conducting. It is likely that Korngold contributed to some of the conducting lessons as well.

A big problem that confronted the writers was trying to get approval from the old Production Code Administration, the film industry's self-regulatory body. In reply to the first script sent, Joseph L. Breen wrote in part to the studio:

... The major difficulty seems to be that this past relationship [between Hollenius and Christine] is not treated as a sin; there is no voice for morality; there is no punishment for either of the sinners; and the general flavor is almost one of condonation of the whole situation. Such a flavor could not be approved.

Changes were made in the scripts that followed. "We had to pussyfoot about the sexual relationship between Christine and her old lover, Hollenius," Davis told Whitney Stine. "Claude Rains rightfully stole the picture. It was up to him to work against the dialogue and to make the audience understand, through his jealousy, that they had been having a hot affair, and that he was not just her piano teacher. He worked like ten men on that movie.... When I killed Claude and had to give myself up to the police, it was too damn noble."

Deception was given a 60 day shooting period but finished 46 days over schedule! One major problem occurred shortly after the start of filming when Davis, on her way home after a work day, had her automobile smashed as she tried to avoid another car abruptly coming out of a bend in the road. She was knocked unconscious and not able to report for work off and on during filming due to medical complications from the crash. And on many days she worked a short schedule at the studio.

The very well-done orchestral sequences, staged by LeRoy Prinz, took considerable time because of the extensive coverage and the various complicated shots involving Henreid and the unseen cello players behind his breakaway coat.

Director Irving Rapper related an amusing story in The Celluloid Muse : It seems that Davis, due in part to the trials and tribulations of her car crash aftermath, was apprehensive about how she looked photographically. One day she went to the projection room to see the dailies. Then Irving Rapper came in and, according to Rapper, there was a heated discussion going on between Davis and cinematographer Ernest Haller. "And she said to him, 'Ernie, you photographed me in Jezebel, didn't you?' And he said, 'Yes, what about it?' 'Can't you photograph me like that?' And he replied, 'Bette, I was seven years younger then.' But seriously, Ernie did a very good job."

Curiously, approximately one month before Deception was released nationwide on 26 October 1946, a play called Obsession opened in New York City. It was a new adaptation by Jane Hinton of the old Jealousy play. Basil Rathbone and Eugenie Leontovich comprised that entire cast. This time the man is a playwright and the woman still has a dress shop in Paris. She continues to be in the power of a rich and unscrupulous unseen lover, who is killed by the husband. Obsession lasted for only 31 performances.

Incidentally, Republic Pictures distributed a film called Jealousy in 1945 that had nothing to do with the Louis Verneuil play, but the fact obviously dissuaded the producers of Deception and Obsession against the use of the title.

On a closing note: Bette Davis discovered she was pregnant by her third husband, William Grant Sherry, toward the end of filming Deception. She and others on the set now laughingly referred to the picture as Conception


The Sea Hawk (complete score restored by J. Morgan)
Deception (complete score restored by J. Morgan)