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The Gay Sisters

The Gay Sisters(1942)


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According to a February 21, 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item, Warner Bros. purchased the Stephen Longstreet novel for $35,000. The studio intended the project for Bette Davis, and according to memos from producer Henry Blanke to studio executive Hal Wallis reprinted in a modern source, Mary Astor was considered for the part of "Evelyn." Davis objected to this casting, however, as she felt Astor would photograph as too old; Astor was then cast in The Maltese Falcon.
       Later Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Irene Dunne was considered for the lead role, and M-G-M was approached to lend Norma Shearer. The studio also made an offer to Katharine Hepburn. Nancy Coleman replaced Olivia De Havilland in the part of "Susanna" when the latter was put on technical suspension to enable her to take a vacation. According to modern sources, Davis was tired of playing hard and bitter roles and felt the part of "Fiona" called for qualities that were too similar to her role in the 1941 RKO film The Little Foxes (see below).
       The Variety review notes the film's "thinly-veiled references" to prominent New Yorkers and their projects such as the similarity between the "Barclay Square" real estate development and Rockefeller Center, and similar parallels between the "Gaylords" and the Vanderbilts. A press release included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library announced that actor Bryant Fleming had adopted Gig Young, the name of his film character, as his stage name because preview audiences expressed a liking for that name. Young had previously acted under the name Byron Barr. A sequel to the film, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Coleman and Geraldine Fitzgerald, was planned but was never made, according to a December 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item. Stanwyck reprised her role in a November 23, 1942 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast, co-starring Robert Young. Another version was broadcast on November 22, 1956.