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Bob, Son of Battle

Bob, Son of Battle(1947)

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The film opens with an offscreen narration spoken by Lon McAllister as "Davie," describing the relationship between a shepherd and his dog. Although Edmund Gwenn's character is listed as "M'Adam," as noted in the Variety review and in studio records, the name is pronounced "MacAdam" in the film. This picture was tradeshown in June 1947 and put into limited release in early July 1947 as Bob, Son of Battle. According to July 14, 1947 and January 2, 1948 Hollywood Reporter news items, the film fared very poorly at the box office and the studio blamed its performance on audiences misinterpreting the title as a war film. Consequently, it was withdrawn from distribution in mid-July and re-released as Thunder in the Valley, the title under which the New York Times reviewed it. When that title failed to generate business, the studio retitled the picture Shepherd of the Valley in 1948.
       According to Hollywood Reporter news items and materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, Barry Fitzgerald was intially slated to play "M'Adam," Peggy Cummins was to play "Maggie," and Donald Crisp was to appear as "James Moore." Crisp withdrew from the cast in mid-June 1946, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, and Peggy Cummins dropped out to appear in The Late George Apley (see below), according to a May 20, 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item. On 27 May, it was announced that Vanessa Brown was to replace Cummins. Although a July 12, 1946 Hollywood Reporter production chart places Cara Williams in the cast, her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. A May 20, 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item states that Anne Revere was set for an important role, but she does not appear in the completed film. Edmund Gwenn was borrowed from M-G-M to play "M'Adam."
       According to an April 18, 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item, the studio originally planned to film the production in England. Publicity materials contained in the AMPAS Library reveal that an English village, consisting of stone walls and bridges and thatched farm houses, was constructed at Blue Springs Valley, UT, about seventy-four miles from Kanab, UT, for the film's location scenes. Although the Script Files include an abbreviated screenplay by John Tucker Battle dated December 1945, the extent of Battle's contribution to the final project has not been determined. In early treatments, M'Adam contemplates suicide. This scene was later deleted, possibly at the behest of the PCA, who, in a letter dated April 16, 1946, praised the studio for eliminating it. According to the New York Times and Hollywood Reporter reviews, Alfred Ollivant's novel focused on the dog story rather than the father-and-son relationship. The New York Times adds that in the novel, M'Adam's offspring was a daughter.